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PLoS One. 2012;7(7):e40752. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0040752. Epub 2012 Jul 10.

Mouse-adapted H9N2 influenza A virus PB2 protein M147L and E627K mutations are critical for high virulence.

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  • 1Key Laboratory of Animal Epidemiology and Zoonosis, Ministry of Agriculture, College of Veterinary Medicine, China Agricultural University, Beijing, China.

Abstract

H9N2 influenza viruses have been circulating worldwide in multiple avian species and have repeatedly infected humans to cause typical disease. The continued avian-to-human interspecies transmission of H9N2 viruses raises concerns about the possibility of viral adaption with increased virulence for humans. To investigate the genetic basis of H9N2 influenza virus host range and pathogenicity in mammals, we generated a mouse-adapted H9N2 virus (SD16-MA) that possessed significantly higher virulence than wide-type virus (SD16). Increased virulence was detectable after 8 sequential lung passages in mice. Five amino acid substitutions were found in the genome of SD16-MA compared with SD16 virus: PB2 (M147L, V250G and E627K), HA (L226Q) and M1 (R210K). Assessments of replication in mice showed that all of the SD16-MA PB2, HA and M1 genome segments increased virus replication; however, only the mouse-adapted PB2 significantly increased virulence. Although the PB2 E627K amino acid substitution enhanced viral polymerase activity and replication, none of the single mutations of mouse adapted PB2 could confer increased virulence on the SD16 backbone. The combination of M147L and E627K significantly enhanced viral replication ability and virulence in mice. Thus, our results show that the combination of PB2 amino acids at position 147 and 627 is critical for the increased pathogenicity of H9N2 influenza virus in mammalian host.

PMID:
22808250
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3393695
Free PMC Article

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