Several mechanisms, including a high mutation rate and reassortment of genes, have been found to be responsible for the variability of influenza A viruses. RNA recombination would be another mechanism leading to genetic variation; however, recombination has only rarely been reported to occur in influenza viruses. During ribonucleoprotein transfection experiments designed to generate viable influenza viruses from in vitro-synthesized RNA, we discovered several viruses which must have originated from recombination events. The ribonucleoprotein transfection system may enhance the formation of viruses which result from jumping of the viral polymerase between RNAs or from ligation of different viral RNAs. Five different recombinant viruses are described. Two of these, REC1 and REC2, contain a neuraminidase (NA) gene whose defective polyadenylation signal has been repaired via intergenic recombination; 124 and 95 nucleotides have been added, respectively. Another virus, REC5, must have originated by multiple recombination events since it contains a mosaic gene with sequences derived from the NA gene of influenza A/WSN/33 virus and the matrix, polymerase protein PB1, and NA genes of influenza A/PR/8/34 virus.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)7576-7580
Number of pages5
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number12
StatePublished - 1992


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