Divergent genetic evolution of hemagglutinin in influenza A H1N1 and A H1N2 subtypes isolated in the south-France since the winter of 2001-2002.J Clin Virol. 2005 Jul; 33(3):230-6.JC
Influenza A viruses are divided into subtypes based on their hemagglutinin (H1 to H15) and neuraminidase (N1 to N9) glycoproteins. Of these, three A subtypes H1N1, H3N2 and H1N2 circulate in the human population. Influenza A viruses display a high antigenic variability called "antigenic drift" which allows the virus to escape antibody neutralization.
Evaluate the mutations apparition that might predict a divergent antigenic evolution of hemagglutinin in influenza A H1N1 and A H1N2 viruses.
During the three winters of 2001-2002 to 2003-2004, 58 A H1N1 and 23 A H1N2 subtypes have been isolated from patients with influenza-like illness in the south of France. The HA1 region was analyzed by RT-PCR and subsequently sequenced to compare the HA1 genetic evolution of influenza A H1N1 and A H1N2 subtypes.
Our results showed that 28 amino acid substitutions have accumulated in the HA1 region since the circulation of A/New Caledonia/20/99-like viruses in France. Of these, fifteen were located in four antigenic sites (B, C, D and E). Six of them were observed only in the A H1N2 isolates, six only in the A H1N1 isolates and three in both subtypes. Furthermore, nine of twenty two A H1N2 isolates from the winter of 2002-2003 shared a T90A amino acid change which has not been observed in any A H1N1 isolate; resulting in the introduction of a new glycosylation site close to the antigenic site E. This might mask some antigenic E determinants and therefore, modify the A H1N2 antigenicity.
The divergent genetic evolution of hemagglutinin may ultimately lead to a significant different antigenicity between A H1N1 and A H1N2 subtypes that would require the introduction of a new subtype in the vaccine batches.