Virological and pathological characterization of an avian H1N1 influenza A virus
Gene segments from avian H1N1 influenza A viruses have reassorted with other influenza viruses to generate pandemic strains over the past century. Nevertheless, little effort has been invested in understanding the characteristics of avian H1N1 influenza viruses. Here, we present the genome sequence and a molecular and virological characterization of an avian influenza A virus, A/wild bird/Korea/SK14/2014 (A/SK14, H1N1), isolated from migratory birds in South Korea during the winter season of 2014-2015. Full-genome sequencing and phylogenetic analysis revealed that the virus belongs to the Eurasian avian lineage. Although it retained avian-receptor binding preference, A/SK14 virus also exhibited detectable human-like receptor binding and was able to replicate in differentiated primary normal human bronchial epithelial cells. In animal models, A/SK14 virus was moderately pathogenic in mice, and virus was detected in nasal washes from inoculated guinea pigs, but not in direct-contact guinea pigs. Although A/SK14 showed moderate pathogenicity and no evidence of transmission in a mammalian model, our results suggest that the dual receptor specificity of A/SK14-like virus might allow for a more rapid adaptation to mammals, emphasizing the importance of further continuous surveillance and risk-assessment activities.
We thank Hyun-Woo Lee and Hai Yen Le for technical assistance.
This work was supported by grants from the KRIBB Initiative program, supported by the BioNano Health-Guard Research Center, funded by the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning (MSIP) of Korea as Global Frontier Project (Grant no. H-GUARD 2013M3A6B2078954) and supported by Animal Disease Management Technology Development, Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (Grant no. 316042-03), and supported by Korea Ministry of Environment (MOE) as “Public Technology Program based on Environmental Policy (no. 2016000210002)”.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare no conflict of interest.
All animal experiments were conducted at the Korea Research Institute of Bioscience and Biotechnology (KRIBB, Daejeon, Korea) and Chungbuk National University (Cheongju, Korea) and were approved by and conducted in accordance with the guidelines of the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee of KRIBB and Chungbuk National University.
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