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J Virol. 2012 Jan;86(1):584-8. doi: 10.1128/JVI.05474-11. Epub 2011 Oct 19.

Length variations in the NA stalk of an H7N1 influenza virus have opposite effects on viral excretion in chickens and ducks.

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  • 1Equipe BioVA, INRA UR1282, Infectiologie Animale et Santé Publique, IASP, 37380 Nouzilly, France.


A deletion of ∼20 amino acids in the stalk of neuraminidase is frequently observed upon transmission of influenza A viruses from waterfowl to domestic poultry. A pair of recombinant H7N1 viruses bearing either a short- or long-stalk neuraminidase was genetically engineered. Inoculation of the long-stalk-neuraminidase virus resulted in a higher cloacal excretion in ducks and led conversely to lower-level oropharyngeal excretion in chickens, associated with a higher-level local immune response and better survival. Therefore, a short-stalk neuraminidase is a determinant of viral adaptation and virulence in chickens but is detrimental to virus replication and shedding in ducks.

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