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Characterization of H9N2 avian influenza viruses from the Middle East demonstrates heterogeneity at amino acid position 226 in the hemagglutinin and potential for transmission to mammals

Klaudia Chrzastek, Dong-hun Lee, Saad Gharaibeh, Aniko Zsak, Darrell R. Kapczynski
Virology 2018 v.518 pp. 195-201
Influenza A virus, birds, gene amplification, genes, genetic heterogeneity, genetic profile, glutamine, hemagglutinins, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, leucine, mammals, monitoring, poultry, receptors, viruses, Jordan, Middle East
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) technologies are a valuable tool to monitor changes in viral genomes and determine the genetic heterogeneity of viruses. In this study, NGS was applied to clinical poultry samples from Jordan to detect eleven H9N2 low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIV). All of the viruses tested belonged to Middle East A genetic group of G1 lineage. Deep sequencing demonstrated a high degree of heterogeneity of glutamine and leucine residues at position 226 in the hemagglutinin (HA) gene, which increases specificity to either avian or mammalian-type receptors. Moreover, additional amino acid changes in PB1, PA, M1, M2, and NS1 were identified among the viruses tested. Compared to single gene amplification, application of NGS for surveillance and characterization of H9N2 LPAIV provides a complete genetic profile of emerging isolates and better understanding of the potential of zoonotic transmissions to mammals.