Choi EJ1, et al. The effect of mutations derived from mouse-adapted H3N2 seasonal influenza A virus to pathogenicity and host adaptation. PLoS One. 2020 Jan 9;15(1):e0227516.
Elucidating the genetic basis of influenza A viruses (IAVs) is important to understand which mutations will determine the virulence and the host range of mammals. Here, seasonal H3N2 influenza was adapted in mice by serial passage and four mutants, each carrying amino acid substitutions related to mouse adaptation in either the PB2, HA, NP, or NA protein, were generated. To confirm the contribution of each gene to enhanced pathogenicity and mouse adaptation, mice were inoculated with the respective variants, and virulence, replication, histopathology, and infectivity were examined. The virus harboring HA mutations displayed increased infection efficiency and replication competence, resulting in higher mortality in mice relative to those infected with wild-type virus. By contrast, the NP D34N mutation caused rapid and widespread infection in multiple organs without presenting virulent symptoms. Additionally, the PB2 F323L mutation presented delayed but elevated replication competence in the respiratory tract, whereas the S331R mutation in NA showed no considerable effects on mouse adaptation. These results suggested that mouse-adapted changes in HA are major factors in increased pathogenicity and that mutations in NP and PB2 also contribute to cross-species adaptability. Our findings offer a better understanding of the molecular basis for IAV pathogenicity and adaptation in a new host.
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