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Emerg Infect Dis. 2004 Aug;10(8):1385-90.

Predicting antigenic variants of influenza A/H3N2 viruses.

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MedImmune Vaccines, Mountain View, California 94043, USA.


Current inactivated influenza vaccines provide protection when vaccine antigens and circulating viruses share a high degree of similarity in hemagglutinin protein. Five antigenic sites in the hemagglutinin protein have been proposed, and 131 amino acid positions have been identified in the five antigenic sites. In addition, 20, 18, and 32 amino acid positions in the hemagglutinin protein have been identified as mouse monoclonal antibody-binding sites, positively selected codons, and substantially diverse codons, respectively. We investigated these amino acid positions for predicting antigenic variants of influenza A/H3N2 viruses in ferrets. Results indicate that the model based on the number of amino acid changes in the five antigenic sites is best for predicting antigenic variants (agreement = 83%). The methods described in this study could be applied to predict vaccine-induced cross-reactive antibody responses in humans, which may further improve the selection of vaccine strains.

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