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Virus Res. 2011 Jan;155(1):325-33. doi: 10.1016/j.virusres.2010.10.032. Epub 2010 Nov 5.

The N terminus of PA polymerase of swine-origin influenza virus H1N1 determines its compatibility with PB2 and PB1 subunits through a strain-specific amino acid serine 186.

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  • 1Virology and Cell Technology Laboratory, National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, 113 Phaholyothin Rd, Klong 1, Klong Luang, Pathumthani 12120, Thailand.


Despite several lines of evidence suggesting possible mechanisms by which the influenza virus polymerase complex, comprising PB2, PB1 and PA, work in concert during virus replication, exactly how they function is not entirely understood. The N terminal region of the PA subunit has been shown to play a key role in various functions through a number of conserved amino acid residues. However, little is known about the role of amino acids reported to be unique for a virus strain. Here, we investigated the functional implication of an amino acid (S186) present uniquely in the N terminus of the PA subunit of the pandemic H1N1 influenza virus and determined the effect of its mutation in terms of polymerase activity as well as virus growth. Using chimeric constructs of PA derived from A/PR/8/34 (H1N1) (PR8) and the swine-origin influenza virus (S-OIV) H1N1, we found that, when complexed with PB2 and PB1 of PR8, the chimeric PA protein containing the N terminus of S-OIV (1-213) with the remaining region from PR8 showed significantly reduced polymerase activity. Recombinant viruses harboring the chimeric PA also grew poorly in MDCK cells and embryonated eggs. Likewise, the chimeric PA in which the N terminus of PA of PR8 (1-213) was assembled with the remaining region of PA of S-OIV showed a similar phenotype when complexed with PB2 and PB1 of S-OIV. Interestingly, when S186 in the N terminus was altered to the residue common in most strains of influenza virus (G186), the chimeric as well as wild-type PA of S-OIV showed severely impaired polymerase activity when assayed with PB2 and PB1 of S-OIV. Collectively, this finding suggests that S186 at the N terminal region of PA of S-OIV is necessary for the protein to function optimally.

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