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Virology. 2007 Apr 25;361(1):45-55. Epub 2006 Dec 8.

Characterization of avian H9N2 influenza viruses from United Arab Emirates 2000 to 2003.

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Division of Virology, Department of Infectious Diseases, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, 332 N. Lauderdale Street, Memphis, TN 38105-2794, USA.


Our aim was to establish the phylogenetic relation of H9N2 avian viruses in the Middle East to other Asian H9N2 lineages by characterization of 7 viruses isolated from United Arab Emirates (2000-2003). All these viruses had an additional basic amino acid at the hemagglutinin-connecting peptide; 6 contained a mutation associated with increased affinity toward human-like sialic acid substrates. The viruses' surface glycoproteins and most internal genes were >90% similar to those of A/Quail/Hong Kong/G1/97 (H9N2) lineage. The hemadsorbing site of neuraminidase had up to 4 amino acid substitutions, as do human pandemic viruses. M2 sequence analysis revealed amino acid changes at 2 positions, with increasing resistance to amantadine in cell culture. They replicated efficiently in inoculated chickens and were successfully transmitted to contacts. They continue to maintain H5N1-like genes and may augment the spread of H5N1 viruses through regional co-circulation and inapparent infection. These viruses may present as potential pandemic candidates themselves.

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