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J Gen Virol. 2005 Oct;86(Pt 10):2831-8.

Restoration of virulence of escape mutants of H5 and H9 influenza viruses by their readaptation to mice.

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The D. I. Ivanovsky Institute of Virology, 16 Gamaleya Street, 123098 Moscow, Russia.


Antigenic mapping of the haemagglutinin (HA) molecule of H5 and H9 influenza viruses by selecting escape mutants with monoclonal anti-HA antibodies and subjecting the selected viruses to immunological analysis and sequencing has previously been performed. The viruses used as wild-type strains were mouse-adapted variants of the original H5 and H9 isolates. Phenotypic characterization of the escape mutants revealed that the amino acid change in HA that conferred resistance to a monoclonal antibody was sometimes associated with additional effects, including decreased virulence for mice. In the present study, the low-virulence H5 and H9 escape mutants were readapted to mice. Analysis of the readapted variants revealed that the reacquisition of virulence was not necessarily achieved by reacquisition of the wild-type HA gene sequence, but was also associated either with the removal of a glycosylation site (the one acquired previously by the escape mutant) without the exact restoration of the initial wild-type amino acid sequence, or, for an H5 escape mutant that had no newly acquired glycosylation sites, with an additional amino acid change in a remote part of the HA molecule. The data suggest that such 'compensating' mutations, removing the damaging effects of antibody-selected amino acid changes, may be important in the course of influenza virus evolution.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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