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Virulent PB1-F2 residues: effects on fitness of H1N1 influenza A virus in mice and changes during evolution of human influenza A viruses

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    Sci Rep
  • Description:
    Specific residues of influenza A virus (IAV) PB1-F2 proteins may enhance inflammation or cytotoxicity. In a series of studies, we evaluated the function of these virulence-associated residues in the context of different IAV subtypes in mice. Here, we demonstrate that, as with the previously assessed pandemic 1968 (H3N2) IAV, PB1-F2 inflammatory residues increase the virulence of H1N1 IAV, suggesting that this effect might be a universal feature. Combining both inflammatory and cytotoxic residues in PB1-F2 enhanced virulence further, compared to either motif alone. Residues from these virulent motifs have been present in natural isolates from human seasonal IAV of all subtypes, but there has been a trend toward a gradual reduction in the number of virulent residues over time. However, human IAV of swine and avian origin tend to have more virulent residues than do the human-adapted seasonal strains, raising the possibility that donation of PB1 segments from these zoonotic viruses may increase the severity of some seasonal human strains. Our data suggest the value of surveillance of virulent residues in both human and animal IAV to predict the severity of influenza season.
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