Zhou Y, Gao W, Sun Y, Guo Y, Wu Y, Pu J. Effect of the Interaction between Viral PB2 and Host SphK1 on H9N2 AIV Replication in Mammals. Viruses. 2022 Jul 21;14(7):1585
The H9N2 avian influenza virus (AIV) is currently widespread worldwide, posing a severe threat to the poultry industry and public health. Reassortment is an important way for influenza viruses to adapt to a new host. In 2007, the PB2 gene of H9N2 AIV in China was reassorted, and the DK1-like lineage replaced the F/98-like lineage, forming a dominant genotype of G57. This genotype and its reassortants (such as H7N9, H10N8 and H5N6) showed higher mammalian adaptation, and caused increased human infections. However, the adaptive mechanisms of the DK1-like lineage PB2 gene remain unclear. Here, we confirmed that the PB2 lineage of the H9N2 AIV currently prevalent in China still belongs to the DK1-like lineage and, compared with the previously predominant F/98-like lineage, the DK1-like lineage PB2 gene significantly enhances H9N2 AIV to mammalian adaptation. Through transcriptomic analysis and qRT-PCR and western blot experiments, we identified a host factor, sphingosine kinase 1 (SphK1), that is closely related to viral replication. SphK1 inhibits the replication of DK1-like PB2 gene H9N2 AIV, but the ability of SphK1 protein to bind DK1-like PB2 protein is weaker than that of F/98-like PB2 protein, which may contribute to H9N2 AIV containing the DK1-like PB2 gene to escape the inhibitory effect of host factor SphK1 for efficient infection. This study broadens our understanding of the adaptive evolution of H9N2 AIV and highlights the necessity to pay close attention to the AIV that contains the adaptive PB2 protein in animals and humans.
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