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PLoS Comput Biol. 2016 Jan 15;12(1):e1004663. doi: 10.1371/journal.pcbi.1004663. eCollection 2016 Jan.

Discovery of Influenza A Virus Sequence Pairs and Their Combinations for Simultaneous Heterosubtypic Targeting that Hedge against Antiviral Resistance.

Author information

Fluid Dynamics Department, Institute of High Performance Computing (IHPC), A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), Singapore, Singapore.
Biomolecular Function Discovery Division, Bioinformatics Institute (BII), A*STAR (Agency for Science, Technology and Research), Singapore, Singapore.
Department of Research, National Skin Centre, Singapore, Singapore.
National Public Health Laboratory, Ministry of Health, Singapore, Singapore.
School of Biological Sciences, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, Singapore.


The multiple circulating human influenza A virus subtypes coupled with the perpetual genomic mutations and segment reassortment events challenge the development of effective therapeutics. The capacity to drug most RNAs motivates the investigation on viral RNA targets. 123,060 segment sequences from 35,938 strains of the most prevalent subtypes also infecting humans-H1N1, 2009 pandemic H1N1, H3N2, H5N1 and H7N9, were used to identify 1,183 conserved RNA target sequences (≥15-mer) in the internal segments. 100% theoretical coverage in simultaneous heterosubtypic targeting is achieved by pairing specific sequences from the same segment ("Duals") or from two segments ("Doubles"); 1,662 Duals and 28,463 Doubles identified. By combining specific Duals and/or Doubles to form a target graph wherein an edge connecting two vertices (target sequences) represents a Dual or Double, it is possible to hedge against antiviral resistance besides maintaining 100% heterosubtypic coverage. To evaluate the hedging potential, we define the hedge-factor as the minimum number of resistant target sequences that will render the graph to become resistant i.e. eliminate all the edges therein; a target sequence or a graph is considered resistant when it cannot achieve 100% heterosubtypic coverage. In an n-vertices graph (n ≥ 3), the hedge-factor is maximal (= n- 1) when it is a complete graph i.e. every distinct pair in a graph is either a Dual or Double. Computational analyses uncover an extensive number of complete graphs of different sizes. Monte Carlo simulations show that the mutation counts and time elapsed for a target graph to become resistant increase with the hedge-factor. Incidentally, target sequences which were reported to reduce virus titre in experiments are included in our target graphs. The identity of target sequence pairs for heterosubtypic targeting and their combinations for hedging antiviral resistance are useful toolkits to construct target graphs for different therapeutic objectives.

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