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Virus Res. 2004 Jul;103(1-2):47-52.

Recent changes among human influenza viruses.

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Virology Division, National Institute for Medical Research, The Ridgeway, Mill Hill, London NW7 1AA, UK.


Recurrent epidemics of influenza are due to the frequent emergence of antigenic variants. With co-circulation of two influenza A subtypes and two antigenically distinct lineages of B viruses, genetic reassortment also has an important role in antigenic drift, as illustrated by recent changes in both A and B viruses. The H1N2 subtype viruses, which emerged during 2001, possessed a H1 HA similar to those of contemporary A/New Caledonia/20/99 (H1N1)-like viruses and seven genes closely related to those of recent H3N2 viruses, and did not represent a significant increase in the antigenic diversity of circulating viruses. The re-emergence of B/Victoria/2/87-lineage viruses, previously prevalent during the 1980s, in 2000 has been followed by the predominant circulation of reassortant B viruses possessing a B/Victoria-lineage HA and a B/Yamagata-lineage NA similar in sequence to those of recent B/Sichuan/379/99-like viruses. These events emphasize not only the lack of divergence in the complementary functional characteristics of the HA and NA of divergent influenza B lineages, but also the apparent convergence in compatibility between the H1 and N2 components of the two influenza A subtypes.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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