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J Med Virol. 2014 Jun;86(6):1003-16. doi: 10.1002/jmv.23819. Epub 2013 Oct 22.

Hemagglutinin and neuraminidase genes of influenza B viruses circulating in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia during 2010-2011: evolution and sequence analysis.

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Center of Excellence in Biotechnology Research, King Saud University, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia.


Influenza viruses are known as continuing threats to human public health every year worldwide. Evolutionary dynamics of influenza B viruses in humans are in a unique progression having two lineages; B/Yam and B/Vic-like viruses, which are circulating simultaneously worldwide. There is a considerable lack of data on influenza B viruses circulating in Saudi Arabia. During the winter-spring season of 2010-2011, 80 nasopharyngeal aspirates were collected from hospitalized patients with flu-like symptoms in Riyadh. Screening of samples by one-step RT-PCR identified three (3.8%) influenza B viruses. Sequencing of hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes was performed to analyze influenza B viruses circulating in Riyadh as compared to the globally circulating strains. Several common and six unique amino acid substitutions were observed for both HA and NA genes of influenza B Saudi strains. Three unique substitutions (T182A, D196N, and K254R) were identified in HA gene of the B/Yam-like Riyadh strains. In NA gene, a unique common substitution (D53G) was found in all Riyadh strains, while two unique substitutions (L38P, G233R) were recognized only in B/Vic-like Riyadh strains. Riyadh strains were also found to contain N-glycosylation site in HA gene of both B/Vic and B/Yam lineages at positions 197-199 (NET) and 196-198 (NNK/DNK), respectively. The significance of these mutations on the antigenicity of both lineages is discussed herein. The unique changes observed in HA and NA genes of influenza B Riyadh strains support strongly the need for continuous surveillance and monitoring of new evolving strains that might pose threat to the Saudi community.


DNA sequencing; Saudi Arabia; hemagglutinin; influenza B virus; neuraminidase; phylogenetic Analysis

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