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Virology. 1996 Mar 15;217(2):508-16.

Characterization of a novel influenza hemagglutinin, H15: criteria for determination of influenza A subtypes.

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Department of Virology and Molecular Biology, St. Jude Children's Research Hospital, Memphis, Tennessee, USA.


Two viruses with a novel hemagglutinin (HA), A/duck/Australia/341/83 and A/shearwater/West Australia/2576/79, have been isolated from a duck and a shorebird in Australia. Hemagglutination inhibition and double immunodiffusion assays failed to reveal cross-reactivity with any of the known subtypes (H1 to H14). We therefore propose that these viruses constitute a new HA subtype, H15. Sequence analysis of the HA genes confirmed the serologic findings. When compared at the amino acid level, the HA1 region of the H15 subtype differs from those of the other subtypes by 30% and more. This degree of heterogeneity is also found among HA genes of other subtypes. Thus we propose that amino acid sequence data should be evaluated when determining the HA subtypes of influenza A viruses. Sequence comparison and phylogenetic analysis suggested that the HA subtype H15 is most closely related to the H7. Compared to the H7 HA, the H15 acquired a 30-nucleotide insertion within HA1 at position 253 which is located in the globular head of the molecule. This finding suggests that RNA recombination, although a rare event in nature, may play an important role in the evolution of influenza viruses.

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