Frontiers in microbiology

Influenza Virus Segment Composition Influences Viral Stability in the Environment.

PMID 30038604


The transmission routes of Influenza A viruses (IAVs) submit virus particles to a wide range of environmental conditions that affect their transmission. In water, temperature, salinity, and pH are important factors modulating viral persistence in a strain-dependent manner, and the viral factors driving IAV persistence remain to be described. We used an innovative method based on a real-time cell system analysis to quantify viral decay in an environmental model. Thus, we identified the viral hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) as the main proteins driving the environmental persistence by comparing the inactivation slopes of several reassortant viruses. We also introduced synonymous and non-synonymous mutations in the HA or in the NA that modulated IAV persistence. Our results demonstrate that HA stability and expression level, as well as calcium-binding sites of the NA protein, are molecular determinants of viral persistence. Finally, IAV particles could not trigger membrane fusion after environmental exposure, stressing the importance of the HA and the NA for environmental persistence.