Send to

Choose Destination
See comment in PubMed Commons below
J Virol. 2014 Aug;88(16):8971-80. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01022-14. Epub 2014 May 28.

Influenza virus PB1 and neuraminidase gene segments can cosegregate during vaccine reassortment driven by interactions in the PB1 coding region.

Author information

Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
bioCSL Limited, Parkville, Victoria, Australia.
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, The University of Melbourne at The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, Parkville, Victoria, Australia


Egg-grown influenza vaccine yields are maximized by infection with a seed virus produced by "classical reassortment" of a seasonal isolate with a highly egg-adapted strain. Seed viruses are selected based on a high-growth phenotype and the presence of the seasonal hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) surface antigens. Retrospective analysis of H3N2 vaccine seed viruses indicated that, unlike other internal proteins that were predominantly derived from the high-growth parent A/Puerto Rico/8/34 (PR8), the polymerase subunit PB1 could be derived from either parent depending on the seasonal strain. We have recently shown that A/Udorn/307/72 (Udorn) models a seasonal isolate that yields reassortants bearing the seasonal PB1 gene. This is despite the fact that the reverse genetics-derived virus that includes Udorn PB1 with Udorn HA and NA on a PR8 background has inferior growth compared to the corresponding virus with PR8 PB1. Here we use competitive plasmid transfections to investigate the mechanisms driving selection of a less fit virus and show that the Udorn PB1 gene segment cosegregates with the Udorn NA gene segment. Analysis of chimeric PB1 genes revealed that the coselection of NA and PB1 segments was not directed through the previously identified packaging sequences but through interactions involving the internal coding region of the PB1 gene. This study identifies associations between viral genes that can direct selection in classical reassortment for vaccine production and which may also be of relevance to the gene constellations observed in past antigenic shift events where creation of a pandemic virus has involved reassortment.


Influenza vaccine must be produced and administered in a timely manner in order to provide protection during the winter season, and poor-growing vaccine seed viruses can compromise this process. To maximize vaccine yields, manufacturers create hybrid influenza viruses with gene segments encoding the surface antigens from a seasonal virus isolate, important for immunity, and others from a virus with high growth properties. This involves coinfection of cells with both parent viruses and selection of dominant progeny bearing the seasonal antigens. We show that this method of creating hybrid viruses does not necessarily select for the best yielding virus because preferential pairing of gene segments when progeny viruses are produced determines the genetic makeup of the hybrids. This not only has implications for how hybrid viruses are selected for vaccine production but also sheds light on what drives and limits hybrid gene combinations that arise in nature, leading to pandemics.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article
PubMed Commons home

PubMed Commons

How to join PubMed Commons

    Supplemental Content

    Full text links

    Icon for HighWire Icon for PubMed Central
    Loading ...
    Support Center