Hemagglutinin mutations related to attenuation and altered cell tropism of a virulent avian influenza A virus

Matthew Philpott, Catarina Hioe, Martha Sheerar, Virginia S. Hinshaw

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The H5 hemagglutinin (HA) of a highly virulent avian influenza virus, A/Turkey/Ontario/7732/66 (H5N9), was previously shown to have five neutralizing epitopes, and escape mutants within one epitope (group 1) were markedly attenuated (M. Philpott, B. C. Easterday, and V. S. Hinshaw, J. Virol. 63:3453-3458, 1989). To define the genetic changes related to these antigenic and biologic properties, the HA genes of mutants within each of the epitope groups were sequenced by using the polymerase chain reaction. The mutations in the attenuated group 1 mutants were located near the distal tip of the HA molecule in close proximity to the receptor-binding site, on the basis of alignment with the three-dimensional structure of the H3 HA. All group 1 mutations involved charged amino acids. The group 1 mutants, similar to the wild-type virus, spread systemically and were recovered from the spleens of infected chickens but, unlike the wild-type virus, failed to produce severe necrosis in the spleens. Viral replication in the spleens was investigated by in situ hybridization of spleen sections from chickens infected with the wild-type or attenuated mutants. Wild-type virus replication was demonstrated in large, mononuclear, macrophagelike cells; however, group 1 mutant virus was detected attached only to erythrocytes within the red pulp. These results suggest that the attenuated mutants differ in their cell tropism within the spleen.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2941-2947
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number6
StatePublished - 1990
Externally publishedYes


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