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Antiviral Res. 2004 Sep;63(3):177-81.

In vitro generation and characterisation of an influenza B variant with reduced sensitivity to neuraminidase inhibitors.

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World Health Organisation Collaborating Centre for Reference and Research on Influenza, 45 Poplar Road, Parkville, Victoria 3052, Australia.


A contemporary influenza type B virus was passaged in vitro in the presence of increasing concentrations of the neuraminidase inhibitors, zanamivir and oseltamivir carboxylate (0.1-1000 microM over nine passages). After the fifth passage in the presence of zanamivir (10 microM), the virus acquired a Glu 119 Asp neuraminidase mutation (influenza A N2 subtype numbering) in the enzyme active site. After a further three passages, in which growth occurred in 100 microM of zanamivir, a Gln 218 Lys mutation (A (H3) numbering) in the HA1 domain of the haemagglutinin was found. In a fluorescence-based neuraminidase inhibition assay, viruses with the Glu 119 Asp NA mutation had a 32,000-fold reduction in sensitivity to the NA inhibitor zanamivir compared to the wild-type virus, while the mutation resulted in a 105-fold reduction in sensitivity to oseltamivir carboxylate. Viruses grown in the presence of 1000 microM oseltamivir carboxylate did not acquire any neuraminidase mutations but did have a His 103 Gln substitution (A (H3) numbering) in the HA1 region of the haemagglutinin which was demonstrated to significantly reduce receptor binding strength in vitro. Tissue culture assays demonstrated that the HA mutation caused a seven-fold reduction in sensitivity to oseltamivir carboxylate, and a 90-fold reduction in sensitivity to zanamivir.

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