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Antiviral Res. 2008 Sep;79(3):166-78. doi: 10.1016/j.antiviral.2008.04.006. Epub 2008 May 23.

Progress in identifying virulence determinants of the 1918 H1N1 and the Southeast Asian H5N1 influenza A viruses.

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Department of Microbiology, Box 1124, Mount Sinai School of Medicine, 1 Gustave L. Levy Place, New York, NY 10029, United States.


The 1918 pandemic H1N1 influenza virus and the recently emerged Southeast Asian H5N1 avian influenza virus are unique among influenza A virus isolates in their high virulence for humans and their lethality for a variety of animal species without prior adaptation. Reverse genetic studies have implicated several viral genes as virulence determinants. For both the 1918 and H5N1 viruses, the hemagglutinin and the polymerase complex contribute to high virulence. Non-structural proteins NS1 and PB1-F2, which block host antiviral responses, also influence pathogenesis. Additionally, recent studies correlate high levels of viral replication and induction of strong proinflammatory responses with the high virulence of these viruses. Defining how individual viral proteins promote enhanced replication, inflammation and severe disease will provide insight into the pathogenesis of severe influenza virus infections and suggest novel therapeutic approaches.

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