Glycosylation of neuraminidase determines the neurovirulence of influenza A/WSN/33 virus

S. Li, J. Schulman, S. Itamura, P. Palese

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The neuraminidase (NA) gene of influenza A/WSN/33 (WSN) virus has previously been shown to be associated with neurovirulence in mice and growth in Madin-Darby bovine kidney (MDBK) cells. Nucleotide sequence analysis has indicated that the NA of WSN virus lacks a conserved glycosylation site at position 130 (corresponding to position 146 in the N2 subtype). To investigate the role of this carbohydrate in viral pathogenicity, we used reverse genetics methods to generate a Glyc+ mutant virus, in which the glycosylation site Asn-130 was introduced into the WSN virus NA. Unlike the wild-type WSN virus, the Glyc+ mutant virus did not undergo multicycle replication in MDBK cells in the absence of trypsin, presumably because of lack of cleavage activation of infectivity. In contrast, revertant viruses derived from the Glyc+ mutant were able to replicate in MDBK cells without exogenous protease. Nucleotide sequence analysis revealed that the NAs of the revertant viruses had lost the introduced glycosylation site. In contrast to wild-type and revertant viruses, the Glyc+ mutant virus was not able to multiply in mouse brain. These results suggest that the absence of a glycosylation site at position 130 of the NA plays a key role in the neurovirulence of WSN virus in mice.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6667-6673
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number11
StatePublished - 1993


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