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Virology. 1989 Jul;171(1):1-9.

The B allele of the NS gene of avian influenza viruses, but not the A allele, attenuates a human influenza A virus for squirrel monkeys.

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Laboratory of Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, Maryland 20892.


The nonstructural (NS) genes of avian influenza A viruses have been divided into two groups on the basis of nucleotide sequence homology, which we have referred to here as alleles A and B. We sequenced the NS genes of eight additional avian influenza A viruses in order to define the differences between these two alleles more thoroughly. Four of the viruses had NS gene sequences which resembled that of A/FPV/Rostock/34 and belonged to allele A while the other four viruses had NS gene sequences more similar to that of A/Duck/Alberta/76 and belonged to allele B. There was approximately 90% sequence homology within alleles and 72% homology between alleles. As previously reported the NS genes of human influenza A viruses belong to allele A. We constructed single gene avian-human reassortant influenza A viruses containing an allele A or B NS gene segment from an avian influenza A virus and all other genes from a human influenza A virus and tested these reassortants for their ability to grow in the respiratory tract of a nonhuman primate. Reassortants containing an avian NS gene segment of allele B were significantly restricted in growth in the respiratory tract of squirrel monkeys while reassortants with an allele A NS gene segment were not. The divergent evolution of the B NS allele in birds may have resulted in gene products which do not function optimally in cooperation with genes from a human virus in viral replication in primate respiratory epithelium.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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