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J Virol. 2006 Aug;80(16):7976-83.

Influenza A virus PB1-F2 protein contributes to viral pathogenesis in mice.

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  • 1Department of Microbiology, Box 1124, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, USA.


The influenza virus PB1-F2 protein is a novel protein previously shown to be involved in induction of cell death. Here we characterize the expression and the function of the protein within the context of influenza viral infection in tissue culture and a mouse model. We show that the C-terminal region of the protein can be expressed from a downstream initiation codon and is capable of interaction with the full-length protein. Using this knowledge, we generated influenza viruses knocked out for the expression of PB1-F2 protein and its downstream truncation products. Knocking out the PB1-F2 protein had no effect on viral replication in tissue culture but diminished virus pathogenicity and mortality in mice. The viruses replicated to similar levels in mouse lungs by day 3 postinfection, suggesting that the knockout did not impair viral replication. However, while the PB1-F2 knockout viruses were cleared after day 5, the wild-type viruses were detectable in mouse lungs until day 7, implying that expression of PB1-F2 resulted in delayed clearance of the viruses by the host immune system. Based on our findings and on the fact that the PB1 genomic segment was always newly introduced into some pandemic influenza viruses of the last century, we speculate that the PB1-F2 protein plays an important role in pathogenesis of influenza virus infection and may be an important contributor to pathogenicity of pandemic influenza viruses.

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