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J Genet Eng Biotechnol. 2018 Dec;16(2):757-767. doi: 10.1016/j.jgeb.2018.02.008. Epub 2018 Feb 23.

In silico thermodynamic stability of mammalian adaptation and virulence determinants in polymerase complex proteins of H9N2 virus.

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National Laboratory for Veterinary Quality Control on Poultry Production, Animal Health Research Institute, P.O. Box 264-Dokki, Giza 12618, Egypt.
VirologyDept, Faculty of Veterinary Medicine, Cairo University, Giza 12211, Egypt.


The polymerase complex proteins (PB2, PB1, and PA) are responsible primarily for the replication of avian influenza virus and play an important role in virus virulence, mammalian adaptation, and interspecies transmission. In this study; eight Egyptian LPAI-H9N2 viruses isolated from apparent healthy chickens and quails from 2014 to 2016. Characterization of complete nucleotide sequences, phylogenetic and mutation analysis were carried out. The measurement of thermodynamic stability of the H9N2 polymerase protein in comparison to human H3N2 and H1N1 proteins was carried out using in silico method. Phylogenetic analysis of these viruses revealed a close relationship to viruses isolated from neighboring Middle Eastern countries with an average of 96-99% homology. They are sharing the common ancestor A/quail/Hong Kong/G1/1997 (G1-Like) without any evidence for genetic reassortment. In addition, eight markers related to virulence were identified, including the combination of 627V and 391E in the PB2 gene with full-length PB1-F2 and PA-X proteins were observed in all viruses and the substitution N66S in PB1-F2 which suggest increasing virus virulence. Moreover, six markers that may affect the virus replication and transmission in mammalian hosts were identified. Five mutations related to mammalian adaptation show a structural stabilizing effect on LPAI-H9N2 polymerase complex protein according to the free-energy change (ΔΔG). Three out of those six adaptive mutations shown to increase polymerase complex protein stability were found in Egyptian LPAI-H9N2 viruses similar to Human H3N2 and H1N1 (661 in PB2, 225 and 409 in PA genes). Our results suggested that the stabilizing mutations in the polymerase complex protein have likely affected the protein structure and induced favorable conditions for avian virus replication and transmission in mammalian hosts. Indeed, the study reports the mutational analysis of the circulating LPAI-H9N2 strains in Egypt.


2 (PB1PB2); Free-energy change; G1-LIKE; H3N2 and H1N1; H9N2; Polymerase acid (PA); Polymerasebasic1

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