Single gene reassortment of highly pathogenic avian influenza A H5N1 in the low pathogenic H9N2 backbone and its impact on pathogenicity and infectivity of novel reassortant viruses.Arch Virol. 2017 Oct; 162(10):2959-2969.AV
Avian influenza A H5N1 and H9N2 viruses have been extensively circulating in various avian species and frequently infect mammals, including humans. The synchronous circulation of both viruses in Egypt provides an opportunity for possible genetic assortment, posing a probable threat to global public health. To assess the potential risk of the IAV reassortants derived from co-circulation of these two AI subtypes, reverse genetics technology was used to generate a set of IAV reassortants carrying single genetic segments of clade 220.127.116.11 virus A/duck/Egypt/Q4596D/2012 (H5N1), a representative of the most prevalent H5N1 clade in Egypt, in the genetic backbone of A/chicken/Egypt/S4456B/2011 (H9N2), a representative of G1-like H9N2 lineage which is widely circulating in Egypt. Furthermore, the genetic compatibility, growth kinetics and virulence were evaluated in vitro in mammalian systems using the MDCK cell line and avian system using SPF embryonated chicken eggs. Pathogenicity and virus shedding were further tested using SPF chickens. Out of the eight desired H9-reassortants, we could rescue only 5 reassortant viruses, either due to difficulty in cloning (PB1 of H5N1 virus) or genetic incompatibility (NP-H5/H9 and NA-H5/H9). Results revealed higher replication rates for the H9N2 virus having the NS segment of H5N1 virus. The lowest survival rate in both SPF eggs and SPF chickens was associated with the H5N1 parent virus infection, followed by the HA-H5/H9 virus. Our findings also suggest that all other reassortant viruses were of lower pathogenicity than the wild type H5N1 virus.