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H9N2 avian influenza virus retained low pathogenicity after serial passage in chickens

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  • H9N2 avian influenza virus retained low pathogenicity after serial passage in chickens

    Can J Vet Res. 2018 Apr;82(2):131-138.
    H9N2 avian influenza virus retained low pathogenicity after serial passage in chickens.

    Jegede A1, Fu Q1, Berhane Y1, Lin M1, Kumar A1, Guan J1.
    Author information

    Abstract

    in English, French
    The H9N2 strains of avian influenza viruses (AIVs) circulate worldwide in poultry and cause sporadic infection in humans. To better understand the evolution of these viruses while circulating in poultry, an H9N2 chicken isolate was passaged 19 times in chickens via aerosol inoculation. Whole-genome sequencing showed that the viruses from the initial stock and those after the 8th and 19th passages (P0, P8, and P19) all had the same monobasic cleavage site in the hemagglutinin (HA), typical for viruses of low pathogenicity. However, at position 226 of the HA protein the ratio of glutamine (which favors avian-type receptor binding) to leucine (which favors mammalian-type receptor binding) decreased from 54:46 in P0, to 87:13 in P8, and then 0:100 in P19. In chickens exposed to aerosols of P0, P8, or P19, replication of the viruses was similar and mainly limited to the respiratory tract. None of the infected chickens showed any clinical signs. Over the 19 passages the viruses maintained relatively stable infectivity but gradually lost lethality to chicken embryos. According to the hemagglutination inactivation assay, P8 was slightly and P19 significantly (P < 0.05) less thermostable than P0. Collectively, after 19 passages in chickens the H9N2 AIVs retained low pathogenicity with a positive selection of L226 in the HA. These findings suggest that H9N2 viruses might acquire mammalian specificity after asymptomatic circulation in avian species.


    PMID: 29755193
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