Jin H, etc.,al. Evolution of H9N2 avian influenza virus in embryonated chicken eggs with or without homologous vaccine antibodies. BMC Vet Res. 2018 Mar 6;14(1):71.
Vaccines constitute a unique selective pressure, different from natural selection, drives the evolution of influenza virus. In this study, A/Chicken/Shanghai/F/1998 (H9N2) was continually passaged in specific pathogen-free embryonated chicken eggs with or without selective pressures from antibodies induced by homologous maternal antibodies. Genetic mutations, antigenic drift, replication, and pathogenicity of the passaged virus were evaluated.
Antigenic drift of the passaged viruses occurred in the 47th generation (vF47) under selective pressure on antibodies and in the 52nd generation (nF52) without selective pressure from antibodies. Seven mutations were observed in the vF47 virus, with three in PB2 and four in HA, whereas 12 mutations occurred in the nF52 virus, with three in PB2, two in PB1, four in HA, one in NP, one in NA, and one in NS. Remarkably, the sequences of the HA segment from vF47 were 100% homologous with those of the nF52 virus. Both the vF47 and nF52 viruses showed enhanced replication compared to the parental virus F/98, but higher levels of replication and pathogenicity were displayed by nF52 than by vF47. An inactive vaccine derived from the parental virus F/98 did not confer protection against challenges by either the vF47 or nF52 virus, but inactive vaccines derived from the vF47 or nF52 virus were able to provide protection against a challenge using F/98.
Taken together, the passage of H9N2 viruses with or without selective pressure of the antibodies induced by homologous maternal antibodies showed genetic variation, enhanced replication, and variant antigenicity. Selective pressure of the antibody does not seem to play a key role in antigenic drift in the egg model but may impact the genetic variation and replication ability of H9N2 viruses. These results improve understanding of the evolution of the H9N2 influenza virus and may aid in selecting appropriate vaccine seeds.
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