Variation in response among individuals to antigenic sites on the HA protein of human influenza virus may be responsible for the emergence of drift strains in the human population.Virology. 2000 Aug 15; 274(1):220-31.V
Eight convalescent human sera obtained from patients aged 3 to 14 years old, who were infected with influenza A(H3N2) virus during the 1990/1991 influenza season, were characterized by a binding assay with chimeric hemagglutinin (HA) proteins between influenza virus A/Aichi/2/68 and A/Kamata/14/91(H3N2) strains. These sera did not recognize the HA protein of the A/Aichi/2/68 strain but recognized that of the A/Kamata/14/91 strain. The binding assay revealed that these sera recognized only the HA1 domain of A/Kamata/14/91 HA protein. A further assay of the binding of these sera to the chimeric proteins of the HA1 domain revealed that three sera (A-1, A-2, and A-3) from very young patients bound only to region 150-170 (site B1) and one serum (Y-1) bound to regions 96-150 (site A) and 96-170 (sites A and B1). These four sera showed reduced hemagglutination inhibition (HI) activity with the 203v2 strain, a monoclonal variant of the A/Kamata/14/91 strain with two amino acid changes in the HA protein at antigenic sites A and B1. The other four sera (Y-2, G-1, G-2, and A-4) bound to regions 1-96 (site C/E), 96-150 (site A), 96-170 (sites A and B1), and 170-200 (site B2), two of which further bound to region 240-306 (site C); these sera were all fully reactive with the 203v2 strain. All eight sera showed reduced HI reactivity to a drift strain A/Aichi/4/93. Amino acid changes of the A/Aichi/4/93 strain from the A/Kamata/14/91 strain were located at antigenic sites A, B1, B2, and C. We propose a possible model for the emergence of a drift strain A/Aichi/4/93 from an A/Kamata/14/91-like strain by sequential changes during reinfections of individuals starting from A-1-like, next to Y-1-like, and then to Y-2-like populations.