, Volume 34, Issue 2, pp 157-168
Date: 15 Dec 2006

Genetic analysis of nonstructural genes (NS1 and NS2) of H9N2 and H5N1 viruses recently isolated in Israel

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The avian influenza virus subtype H9N2 affects wild birds, domestic poultry, swine, and humans; it has circulated amongst domestic poultry in Israel during the last 6 years. The H5N1 virus was recorded in Israel for the first time in March 2006. Nonstructural (NS) genes and NS proteins are important in the life cycle of the avian influenza viruses. In the present study, NS genes of 21 examples of H9N2 and of two examples of H5N1 avian influenza viruses, isolated in Israel during 2000–2006, were completely sequenced and phylogenetically analyzed. All the H9N2 isolates fell into a single group that, in turn, was subdivided into three subgroups in accordance with the time of isolation; their NS1 and NS2 proteins possessed 230 and 121 amino acids, respectively. The NS1 protein of the H5N1 isolates had five amino acid deletions, which was typical of highly pathogenic H5N1 viruses isolated in various countries during 2005–2006. Comparative analysis showed that the NS proteins of the H9N2 Israeli isolates contained few amino acid sequences associated with high pathogenicity or human host specificity.