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Virol J. 2009 Jun 10;6:76. doi: 10.1186/1743-422X-6-76.

Comparative analysis between a low pathogenic and a high pathogenic influenza H5 hemagglutinin in cell entry.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, College of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, Illinois 60612, USA.


Avian influenza viruses continue to threaten globally with pandemic potential. The first step in a potential pandemic is the ability of the virus to enter human cells which is mediated by the viral surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA). Viral entry of influenza is dependent upon the processing of the HA0 polypeptide precursor protein into HA1 and HA2 which is mediated by host cellular proteases. The sequence of the cleavage site which is recognized by host proteases has been linked with pathogenesis of various influenza viruses. Here we examined the effects of cleavage site sequences between a highly pathogenic H5N1 strain and a low pathogenic H5N2 strain to determine their effects on viral entry. From this analysis we determined that at the level of viral entry, the only observed difference between the low and high pathogenic strains is their ability to be cleaved by host cellular proteases.

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