Timofeeva TA, Sadykova GK, Lomakina NF, Gambaryan. The Effect of I155T, K156Q, K156E and N186K Mutations in Hemagglutinin on the Virulence and Reproduction of Influenza A/H5N1 Viruses. Mol Biol. 2020;54(6):861-869
The continued circulation of influenza A virus subtype H5 may cause the emergence of new potential pandemic virus variants, which can be transmitted from person to person. The occurrence of such variants is mainly related to mutations in hemagglutinin (HA). Previously we discovered mutations in H5N1 influenza virus hemagglutinin, which contributes to virus immune evasion. The purpose of this work was to study the role of these mutations in changing other, non-antigenic properties of the virus and the possibility of their maintenance in the viral population. Mutations were introduced into the HA gene of a recombinant H5N1 influenza A virus (VNH5N1-PR8/CDC-RG) using site-specific mutagenesis. The "variant" viruses were investigated and compared with respect to replication kinetics in chicken embryos, thermostability, reproductive activity at different temperatures (33, 37 and 40°C), and virulence for mice. Amino acid substitutions I155T, K156Q, K156E+V138A, N186K led to a decrease in thermal stability, replication activity of the mutant viruses in chicken embryos, and virulence for mice, although these effects differed between the variants. The K156Q and N186K mutations reduced viral reproduction at elevated temperature (40°C). The analysis of the frequency of these mutations in natural isolates of H5N1 influenza viruses indicated that the K156E/Q and N186K mutations have little chance to gain a foothold during evolution, in contrast to the I155T mutation, which is the most responsible for antigenic drift. The A138V and N186K mutations seem to be adaptive in mammalian viruses.
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