Evolution of 2009 H1N1 influenza viruses during the pandemic correlates with increased viral pathogenicity and transmissibility in the ferret model

Anna Otte, Anthony C. Marriott, Carola Dreier, Brian Dove, Kyra Mooren, Thorsten R. Klingen, Martina Sauter, Katy Anne Thompson, Allan Bennett, Karin Klingel, Debby Van Riel, Alice C. McHardy, Miles Carroll, Gülsah Gabriel*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

There is increasing evidence that 2009 pandemic H1N1 influenza viruses have evolved after pandemic onset giving rise to severe epidemics in subsequent waves. However, it still remains unclear which viral determinants might have contributed to disease severity after pandemic initiation. Here, we show that distinct mutations in the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus genome have occurred with increased frequency after pandemic declaration. Among those, a mutation in the viral hemagglutinin was identified that increases 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus binding to human-like α2,6-linked sialic acids. Moreover, these mutations conferred increased viral replication in the respiratory tract and elevated respiratory droplet transmission between ferrets. Thus, our data show that 2009 H1N1 influenza viruses have evolved after pandemic onset giving rise to novel virus variants that enhance viral replicative fitness and respiratory droplet transmission in a mammalian animal model. These findings might help to improve surveillance efforts to assess the pandemic risk by emerging influenza viruses.

Original languageEnglish
Article number28583
JournalScientific Reports
Volume6
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2016

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