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J Virol. 2017 Aug 10;91(17). pii: e00830-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00830-17. Print 2017 Sep 1.

Seasonal H3N2 and 2009 Pandemic H1N1 Influenza A Viruses Reassort Efficiently but Produce Attenuated Progeny.

Author information

1
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA.
2
Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, USA anice.lowen@emory.edu.

Abstract

Reassortment of gene segments between coinfecting influenza A viruses (IAVs) facilitates viral diversification and has a significant epidemiological impact on seasonal and pandemic influenza. Since 1977, human IAVs of H1N1 and H3N2 subtypes have cocirculated with relatively few documented cases of reassortment. We evaluated the potential for viruses of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 (pH1N1) and seasonal H3N2 lineages to reassort under experimental conditions. Results of heterologous coinfections with pH1N1 and H3N2 viruses were compared to those obtained following coinfection with homologous, genetically tagged, pH1N1 viruses as a control. High genotype diversity was observed among progeny of both coinfections; however, diversity was more limited following heterologous coinfection. Pairwise analysis of genotype patterns revealed that homologous reassortment was random while heterologous reassortment was characterized by specific biases. pH1N1/H3N2 reassortant genotypes produced under single-cycle coinfection conditions showed a strong preference for homologous PB2-PA combinations and general preferences for the H3N2 NA, pH1N1 M, and H3N2 PB2 except when paired with the pH1N1 PA or NP. Multicycle coinfection results corroborated these findings and revealed an additional preference for the H3N2 HA. Segment compatibility was further investigated by measuring chimeric polymerase activity and growth of selected reassortants in human tracheobronchial epithelial cells. In guinea pigs inoculated with a mixture of viruses, parental H3N2 viruses dominated but reassortants also infected and transmitted to cage mates. Taken together, our results indicate that strong intrinsic barriers to reassortment between seasonal H3N2 and pH1N1 viruses are few but that the reassortants formed are attenuated relative to parental strains.IMPORTANCE The genome of IAV is relatively simple, comprising eight RNA segments, each of which typically encodes one or two proteins. Each viral protein carries out multiple functions in coordination with other viral components and the machinery of the cell. When two IAVs coinfect a cell, they can exchange genes through reassortment. The resultant progeny viruses often suffer fitness defects due to suboptimal interactions among divergent viral components. The genetic diversity generated through reassortment can facilitate the emergence of novel outbreak strains. Thus, it is important to understand the efficiency of reassortment and the factors that limit its potential. The research described here offers new tools for studying reassortment between two strains of interest and applies those tools to viruses of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 and seasonal H3N2 lineages, which currently cocirculate in humans and therefore have the potential to give rise to novel epidemic strains.

KEYWORDS:

H1N1; H3N2; influenza virus; reassortment; segment mismatch

PMID:
28637755
PMCID:
PMC5553182
DOI:
10.1128/JVI.00830-17
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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