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A novel pyrosequencing assay for the detection of neuraminidase inhibitor resistance-conferring mutations among clinical isolates of avian H7N9 influenza virus

Qi, Yuhua, Fan, Huan, Qi, Xian, Zhu, Zheng, Guo, Xiling, Chen, Yin, Ge, Yiyue, Zhao, Kangchen, Wu, Tao, Li, Yan, Shan, Yunfeng, Zhou, Minghao, Shi, Zhiyang, Wang, Hua, Cui, Lunbiao
Virus research 2014 v.179 pp. 119-124
Influenza A virus, RNA, codons, drug resistance, enzyme inhibitors, humans, monitoring, mutation, oseltamivir, respiratory system, reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, reverse transcription, sequence analysis, sialidase, China
A novel reassortant avian influenza A virus (H7N9) emerged in humans in Eastern China in late February 2013. All virus strains were resistant to adamantanes (amantadine and rimantadine), but susceptible to neuraminidase inhibitors (NAIs) (oseltamivir and zanamivir). One strain (A/shanghai/1/2013) contained the R294K substitution in the neuraminidase (NA) gene, indicating resistance to oseltamivir. Pyrosequencing has proven to be a useful tool in the surveillance of drug resistance in influenza A viruses. Here, we describe a reverse transcription (RT)-PCR assay coupled with pyrosequencing to identify the NA residues E120, H276, and R294 (N9 numbering) of H7N9 viruses. A total of 43 specimens (26 clinical samples and 17 isolates) were tested. Only one isolate containing the E120V heterogenic mutation was detected by pyrosequencing and confirmed by Sanger sequencing. However, this mutation was not detected in the original clinical specimen. Since virus isolation might lead to the selection of variants that might not fully represent the virus population in the clinical specimens, we suggest that using pyrosequencing to detect NAI resistance in H7N9 viruses directly from clinical specimens rather than from cultured isolates. No cross-reactions with other types of influenza virus and respiratory tract viruses were found, and this assay has a sensitivity of 100 copies of synthetic RNA for all three codons. The high sensitivity and specificity of the assay should be sufficient for the detection of positive clinical specimens. In this study, we provide a rapid and reliable method for the characterization of NAI resistance in H7N9 viruses.