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J Virol Methods. 2008 Nov;153(2):134-41. doi: 10.1016/j.jviromet.2008.07.017. Epub 2008 Sep 19.

A new and rapid genotypic assay for the detection of neuraminidase inhibitor resistant influenza A viruses of subtype H1N1, H3N2, and H5N1.

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National Reference Centre for Influenza, Robert Koch-Institut, Nordufer 20, 13353 Berlin, Germany.


The neuraminidase of influenza viruses is the target of the inhibitors oseltamivir and zanamivir. Recent reports on influenza viruses with reduced susceptibility to neuraminidase inhibitors (NAI) are a cause for concern. Several amino acid substitutions, each as a consequence of one single nucleotide mutation, are known to confer resistance to NAI. An increase of NAI-resistant viruses appears to be likely as a result of a wider application of NAI for treatment and prophylaxis of seasonal influenza infections. Monitoring the occurrence and spread of resistant viruses is an important task. Therefore, RT-PCR assays were developed with subsequent pyrosequencing analysis (PSQ-PCR). These assays allow a rapid, high-throughput and cost-effective screening of subtype A/H1N1, A/H3N2, and A/H5N1 viruses. Various specimens such as respiratory swabs, allantoic fluid, or cell-propagated viruses can be used and results are available within hours. Several A/H1N1, A/H3N2, and A/H5N1 viruses isolated from human and avian specimens were tested to evaluate the method. Positive controls encoding resistance-associated mutations were created using site-directed mutagenesis. The results obtained with these controls showed that the assay can discriminate clearly the wild-type virus from a mutant virus. The detection limit of minor virus variants within the viral quasispecies amounts to 10%.

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