Genomic characterization of H1N2 swine influenza viruses in Italy.Vet Microbiol 2012; 156(3-4):265-76VM
Three subtypes (H1N1, H1N2, and H3N2) are currently diffused worldwide in pigs. The H1N2 subtype was detected for the first time in Italian pigs in 1998. To investigate the genetic characteristics and the molecular evolution of this subtype in Italy, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of whole genome sequences of 26 strains isolated from 1998 to 2010. Phylogenetic analysis of HA and NA genes showed differences between the older (1998-2003) and the more recent strains (2003-2010). The older isolates were closely related to the established European H1N2 lineage, whereas the more recent isolates possessed a different NA deriving from recent human H3N2 viruses. Two other reassortant H1N2 strains have been detected: A/sw/It/22530/02 has the HA gene that is closely related to H1N1 viruses; A/sw/It/58769/10 is an uncommon strain with an HA that is closely related to H1N1 and an NA similar to H3N2 SIVs. Amino acid analysis revealed interesting features: a deletion of two amino acids (146-147) in the HA gene of the recent isolates and two strains isolated in 1998; the presence of the uncommon aa change (N66S), in the PB1-F2 protein in strains isolated from 2009 to 2010, which is said to have contributed to the increased virulence. These results demonstrate the importance of pigs as mixing vessels for animal and human influenza and show the presence and establishment of reassortant strains involving human viruses in pigs in Italy. These findings also highlighted different genomic characteristics of the NA gene the recent Italian strains compared to circulating European viruses.