North American triple reassortant and Eurasian H1N1 swine influenza viruses do not readily reassort to generate a 2009 pandemic H1N1-like virus.MBio 2014; 5(2):e00919-13MBIO
The 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus (pH1N1) was derived through reassortment of North American triple reassortant and Eurasian avian-like swine influenza viruses (SIVs). To date, when, how and where the pH1N1 arose is not understood. To investigate viral reassortment, we coinfected cell cultures and a group of pigs with or without preexisting immunity with a Eurasian H1N1 virus, A/Swine/Spain/53207/2004 (SP04), and a North American triple reassortant H1N1 virus, A/Swine/Kansas/77778/2007 (KS07). The infected pigs were cohoused with one or two groups of contact animals to investigate viral transmission. In coinfected MDCK or PK15 continuous cell lines with KS07 and SP04 viruses, more than 20 different reassortant viruses were found. In pigs without or with preexisting immunity (immunized with commercial inactivated swine influenza vaccines) and coinfected with both viruses, six or seven reassortant viruses, as well as the parental viruses, were identified in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid samples from the lungs. Interestingly, only one or two viruses transmitted to and were detected in contact animals. No reassortant containing a gene constellation similar to that of pH1N1 virus was found in either coinfected cells or pigs, indicating that the reassortment event that resulted in the generation of this virus is a rare event that likely involved specific viral strains and/or a favorable, not-yet-understood environment. IMPORTANCE The 2009 pandemic-like H1N1 virus could not be reproduced either in cell cultures or in pigs coinfected with North American triple reassortant H1N1 and Eurasian H1N1 swine influenza viruses. This finding suggests that the generation of the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus by reassortment was a rare event that likely involved specific viral strains and unknown factors. Different reassortant viruses were detected in coinfected pigs with and without preexisting immunity, indicating that host immunity plays a relevant role in driving viral reassortment of influenza A virus.