Composition and Dynamics of H1N1 and H7N9 Influenza A Virus Quasispecies in a Co-infected Patient Analyzed by Single Molecule Sequencing Technology

A human co-infected with H1N1 and H7N9 subtypes influenza A virus (IAV) causes a complex infectious disease. The identification of molecular-level variations in composition and dynamics of IAV quasispecies will help to understand the pathogenesis and provide guidance for precision medicine treatment. In this study, using single-molecule real-time sequencing (SMRT) technology, we successfully acquired full-length IAV genomic sequences and quantified their genotypes abundance in serial samples from an 81-year-old male co-infected with H1N1 and H7N9 subtypes IAV. A total of 26 high diversity nucleotide loci was detected, in which the A-G base transversion was the most abundant substitution type (67 and 64%, in H1N1 and H7N9, respectively). Seven significant amino acid variations were detected, such as NA:H275Y and HA: R222K in H1N1 as well as PB2:E627K and NA: K432E in H7N9, which are related to viral drug-resistance or mammalian adaptation. Furtherly, we retrieved 25 H1N1 and 22 H7N9 genomic segment haplotypes from the eight samples based on combining high-diversity nucleotide loci, which provided a more concise overview of viral quasispecies composition and dynamics. Our approach promotes the popularization of viral quasispecies analysis in a complex infectious disease, which will boost the understanding of viral infections, pathogenesis, evolution, and precision medicine.