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PloS one

Polymerase discordance in novel swine influenza H3N2v constellations is tolerated in swine but not human respiratory epithelial cells.


PMID 25330303

Abstract

Swine-origin H3N2v, a variant of H3N2 influenza virus, is a concern for novel reassortment with circulating pandemic H1N1 influenza virus (H1N1pdm09) in swine because this can lead to the emergence of a novel pandemic virus. In this study, the reassortment prevalence of H3N2v with H1N1pdm09 was determined in swine cells. Reassortants evaluated showed that the H1N1pdm09 polymerase (PA) segment occurred within swine H3N2 with ∼ 80% frequency. The swine H3N2-human H1N1pdm09 PA reassortant (swH3N2-huPA) showed enhanced replication in swine cells, and was the dominant gene constellation. Ferrets infected with swH3N2-huPA had increased lung pathogenicity compared to parent viruses; however, swH3N2-huPA replication in normal human bronchoepithelial cells was attenuated - a feature linked to expression of IFN-β and IFN-λ genes in human but not swine cells. These findings indicate that emergence of novel H3N2v influenza constellations require more than changes in the viral polymerase complex to overcome barriers to cross-species transmission. Additionally, these findings reveal that while the ferret model is highly informative for influenza studies, slight differences in pathogenicity may not necessarily be indicative of human outcomes after infection.