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Emerg Infect Dis. 2006 Jun;12(6):881-6.

Host range restriction and pathogenicity in the context of influenza pandemic.

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University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison 53706, USA.


Influenza A viruses cause pandemics at random intervals. Pandemics are caused by viruses that contain a hemagglutinin (HA) surface glycoprotein to which human populations are immunologically naive. Such an HA can be introduced into the human population through reassortment between human and avian virus strains or through the direct transfer of an avian influenza virus to humans. The factors that determine the interspecies transmission and pathogenicity of influenza viruses are still poorly understood; however, the HA protein plays an important role in overcoming the interspecies barrier and in virulence in avian influenza viruses. Recently, the RNA polymerase (PB2) protein has also been recognized as a critical factor in host range restriction, while the nonstructural (NS1) protein affects the initial host immune responses. We summarize current knowledge of viral factors that determine host range restriction and pathogenicity of influenza A viruses.

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