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1.  Oncolytic Activity of Avian Influenza Virus in Human Pancreatic Ductal Adenocarcinoma Cell Lines 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(16):9321-9334.
ABSTRACT
Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDA) is the most lethal form of human cancer, with dismal survival rates due to late-stage diagnoses and a lack of efficacious therapies. Building on the observation that avian influenza A viruses (IAVs) have a tropism for the pancreas in vivo, the present study was aimed at testing the efficacy of IAVs as oncolytic agents for killing human PDA cell lines. Receptor characterization confirmed that human PDA cell lines express the alpha-2,3- and the alpha-2,6-linked glycan receptor for avian and human IAVs, respectively. PDA cell lines were sensitive to infection by human and avian IAV isolates, which is consistent with this finding. Growth kinetic experiments showed preferential virus replication in PDA cells over that in a nontransformed pancreatic ductal cell line. Finally, at early time points posttreatment, infection with IAVs caused higher levels of apoptosis in PDA cells than gemcitabine and cisplatin, which are the cornerstone of current therapies for PDA. In the BxPC-3 PDA cell line, apoptosis resulted from the engagement of the intrinsic mitochondrial pathway. Importantly, IAVs did not induce apoptosis in nontransformed pancreatic ductal HPDE6 cells. Using a model based on the growth of a PDA cell line as a xenograft in SCID mice, we also show that a slightly pathogenic avian IAV significantly inhibited tumor growth following intratumoral injection. Taken together, these results are the first to suggest that IAVs may hold promise as future agents of oncolytic virotherapy against pancreatic ductal adenocarcinomas.
IMPORTANCE Despite intensive studies aimed at designing new therapeutic approaches, PDA still retains the most dismal prognosis among human cancers. In the present study, we provide the first evidence indicating that avian IAVs of low pathogenicity display a tropism for human PDA cells, resulting in viral RNA replication and a potent induction of apoptosis in vitro and antitumor effects in vivo. These results suggest that slightly pathogenic IAVs may prove to be effective for oncolytic virotherapy of PDA and provide grounds for further studies to develop specific and targeted viruses, with the aim of testing their efficacy in clinical contexts.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00929-14
PMCID: PMC4136238  PMID: 24899201
2.  Airborne Transmission of Highly Pathogenic H7N1 Influenza Virus in Ferrets 
Journal of Virology  2014;88(12):6623-6635.
ABSTRACT
Avian H7 influenza viruses are recognized as potential pandemic viruses, as personnel often become infected during poultry outbreaks. H7 infections in humans typically cause mild conjunctivitis; however, the H7N9 outbreak in the spring of 2013 has resulted in severe respiratory disease. To date, no H7 viruses have acquired the ability for sustained transmission among humans. Airborne transmission is considered a requirement for the emergence of pandemic influenza, and advanced knowledge of the molecular changes or signature required for transmission would allow early identification of pandemic vaccine seed stocks, screening and stockpiling of antiviral compounds, and eradication efforts focused on flocks harboring threatening viruses. Thus, we sought to determine if a highly pathogenic influenza A H7N1 (A/H7N1) virus with no history of human infection could become capable of airborne transmission among ferrets. We show that after 10 serial passages, A/H7N1 developed the ability to be transmitted to cohoused and airborne contact ferrets. Four amino acid mutations (PB2 T81I, NP V284M, and M1 R95K and Q211K) in the internal genes and a minimal amino acid mutation (K/R313R) in the stalk region of the hemagglutinin protein were associated with airborne transmission. Furthermore, transmission was not associated with loss of virulence. These findings highlight the importance of the internal genes in host adaptation and suggest that natural isolates carrying these mutations be further evaluated. Our results demonstrate that a highly pathogenic avian H7 virus can become capable of airborne transmission in a mammalian host, and they support ongoing surveillance and pandemic H7 vaccine development.
IMPORTANCE The major findings of this report are that a highly pathogenic strain of H7N1 avian influenza virus can be adapted to become capable of airborne transmission in mammals without mutations altering receptor specificity. Changes in receptor specificity have been shown to play a role in the ability of avian influenza viruses to cross the species barrier, and these changes are assumed to be essential. The work reported here challenges this paradigm, at least for the influenza viruses of the H7 subtype, which have recently become the focus of major attention, as they have crossed to humans.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02765-13
PMCID: PMC4054360  PMID: 24696487
3.  Antigenic characterization of recent H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses circulating in Egyptian poultry 
Virology  2012;435(2):350-356.
The extensive circulation of Highly Pathogenic (HP) H5N1 Avian Influenza in Egypt in poultry since 2006 resulted in the emergence of distinct clades with the recent identification of a further clade: 2.2.1.1. The aim of this study was to characterize for the first time the antigenic profile of an extensive collection of genetically diverse Egyptian H5N1 HP viruses isolated between 2007 and 2010 applying antigenic cartography and principal component analysis to serological data. We identified that Egyptian H5N1 viruses have undergone significant antigenic diversification between 2007 and 2010 and two distinct antigenic clusters co-circulated in 2010. Such clusters correlated with 2.2.1 and 2.2.1.1 clades, showing for the first time that the new emerging clade 2.2.1.1 is antigenically distinct. This study highlights that the antigenic diversity of H5N1 HP Egyptian viruses may represent a potential challenge for the development of an effective vaccination programme for animal and human health in Egypt.
doi:10.1016/j.virol.2012.09.016
PMCID: PMC4223090  PMID: 23123011
H5N1 HPAI; Egypt; Antigenic drift; Antigenic cartography; PCA
4.  Antigenic and Genetic Evolution of Low-Pathogenicity Avian Influenza Viruses of Subtype H7N3 following Heterologous Vaccination 
Outbreaks of low-pathogenicity avian influenza (LPAI) viruses of the H7N3 subtype were first detected in Italy in October 2002, and the virus continued to circulate between 2002 and 2004 in a densely populated poultry area in the northeast portion of that country. This virus circulated in unvaccinated and vaccinated poultry farms, and the infection was controlled in August 2003 by culling, control of movements, improved biosecurity, and heterologous vaccination. In 2004, H7N3 reoccurred in vaccinated poultry farms in which infection had been successfully controlled by the vaccination program. To shed light on this occurrence and the temporal pattern and genetic basis of antigenic drift for avian influenza viruses (AIVs) in the absence and presence of heterologous vaccination, a collection of H7N3 viruses isolated in 2002 and 2004 were characterized genetically and antigenically. Molecular analysis showed that viruses isolated in the 2004 outbreaks after the implementation of vaccination had acquired specific amino acid signatures, most of which were located at reported antibody binding sites of the hemagglutinin (HA) protein. Antigenic characterization of these 2004 isolates showed that they were antigenically different from those isolated prior to the implementation of vaccination. This is the first report on antigenic and genetic evolution of H7 LPAI viruses following the application of heterologous vaccination in poultry. These findings may have an impact on control strategies to combat AI infections in poultry based on vaccination.
doi:10.1128/CVI.00647-13
PMCID: PMC4018894  PMID: 24554694
7.  Influenza A Viruses Grow in Human Pancreatic Cells and Cause Pancreatitis and Diabetes in an Animal Model 
Journal of Virology  2013;87(1):597-610.
Influenza A viruses commonly cause pancreatitis in naturally and experimentally infected animals. In this study, we report the results of in vivo investigations carried out to establish whether influenza virus infection could cause metabolic disorders linked to pancreatic infection. In addition, in vitro tests in human pancreatic islets and in human pancreatic cell lines were performed to evaluate viral growth and cell damage. Infection of an avian model with two low-pathogenicity avian influenza isolates caused pancreatic damage resulting in hyperlipasemia in over 50% of subjects, which evolved into hyperglycemia and subsequently diabetes. Histopathology of the pancreas showed signs of an acute infection resulting in severe fibrosis and disruption of the structure of the organ. Influenza virus nucleoprotein was detected by immunohistochemistry (IHC) in the acinar tissue. Human seasonal H1N1 and H3N2 viruses and avian H7N1 and H7N3 influenza virus isolates were able to infect a selection of human pancreatic cell lines. Human viruses were also shown to be able to infect human pancreatic islets. In situ hybridization assays indicated that viral nucleoprotein could be detected in beta cells. The cytokine activation profile indicated a significant increase of MIG/CXCL9, IP-10/CXCL10, RANTES/CCL5, MIP1b/CCL4, Groa/CXCL1, interleukin 8 (IL-8)/CXCL8, tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNF-α), and IL-6. Our findings indicate that influenza virus infection may play a role as a causative agent of pancreatitis and diabetes in humans and other mammals.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00714-12
PMCID: PMC3536404  PMID: 23097451
8.  Receptor-Binding Profiles of H7 Subtype Influenza Viruses in Different Host Species 
Journal of Virology  2012;86(8):4370-4379.
Influenza viruses of gallinaceous poultry and wild aquatic birds usually have distinguishable receptor-binding properties. Here we used a panel of synthetic sialylglycopolymers and solid-phase receptor-binding assays to characterize receptor-binding profiles of about 70 H7 influenza viruses isolated from aquatic birds, land-based poultry, and horses in Eurasia and America. Unlike typical duck influenza viruses with non-H7 hemagglutinin (HA), all avian H7 influenza viruses, irrespective of the host species, displayed a poultry-virus-like binding specificity, i.e., preferential binding to sulfated oligosaccharides Neu5Acα2-3Galβ1-4(6-O-HSO3)GlcNAc and Neu5Acα2-3Galβ1-4(Fucα1-3)(6-O-HSO3)GlcNAc. This phenotype correlated with the unique amino acid sequence of the amino acid 185 to 189 loop of H7 HA and seemed to be dependent on ionic interactions between the sulfate group of the receptor and Lys193 and on the lack of sterical clashes between the fucose residue and Gln222. Many North American and Eurasian H7 influenza viruses displayed weak but detectable binding to the human-type receptor moiety Neu5Acα2-6Galβ1-4GlcNAc, highlighting the potential of H7 influenza viruses for avian-to-human transmission. Equine H7 influenza viruses differed from other viruses by preferential binding to the N-glycolyl form of sialic acid. Our data suggest that the receptor-binding site of contemporary H7 influenza viruses in aquatic and terrestrial birds was formed after the introduction of their common precursor from ducks to a new host, presumably, gallinaceous poultry. The uniformity of the receptor-binding profile of H7 influenza viruses in various wild and domestic birds indicates that there is no strong receptor-mediated host range restriction in birds on viruses with this HA subtype. This notion agrees with repeated interspecies transmission of H7 influenza viruses from aquatic birds to poultry.
doi:10.1128/JVI.06959-11
PMCID: PMC3318648  PMID: 22345462
9.  Antigenic Drift in H5N1 Avian Influenza Virus in Poultry Is Driven by Mutations in Major Antigenic Sites of the Hemagglutinin Molecule Analogous to Those for Human Influenza Virus▿† 
Journal of Virology  2011;85(17):8718-8724.
H5N1 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus has been endemic in poultry in Egypt since 2008, notwithstanding the implementation of mass vaccination and culling of infected birds. Extensive circulation of the virus has resulted in a progressive genetic evolution and an antigenic drift. In poultry, the occurrence of antigenic drift in avian influenza viruses is less well documented and the mechanisms remain to be clarified. To test the hypothesis that H5N1 antigenic drift is driven by mechanisms similar to type A influenza viruses in humans, we generated reassortant viruses, by reverse genetics, that harbored molecular changes identified in genetically divergent viruses circulating in the vaccinated population. Parental and reassortant phenotype viruses were antigenically analyzed by hemagglutination inhibition (HI) test and microneutralization (MN) assay. The results of the study indicate that the antigenic drift of H5N1 in poultry is driven by multiple mutations primarily occurring in major antigenic sites at the receptor binding subdomain, similarly to what has been described for human influenza H1 and H3 subtype viruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02403-10
PMCID: PMC3165837  PMID: 21734057
10.  Phylogeography and Evolutionary History of Reassortant H9N2 Viruses with Potential Human Health Implications ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2011;85(16):8413-8421.
Avian influenza viruses of the H9N2 subtype have seriously affected the poultry industry of the Far and Middle East since the mid-1990s and are considered one of the most likely candidates to cause a new influenza pandemic in humans. To understand the genesis and epidemiology of these viruses, we investigated the spatial and evolutionary dynamics of complete genome sequences of H9N2 viruses circulating in nine Middle Eastern and Central Asian countries from 1998 to 2010. We identified four distinct and cocirculating groups (A, B, C, and D), each of which has undergone widespread inter- and intrasubtype reassortments, leading to the generation of viruses with unknown biological properties. Our analysis also suggested that eastern Asia served as the major source for H9N2 gene segments in the Middle East and Central Asia and that in this geographic region within-country evolution played a more important role in shaping viral genetic diversity than migration between countries. The genetic variability identified among the H9N2 viruses was associated with specific amino acid substitutions that are believed to result in increased transmissibility in mammals, as well as resistance to antiviral drugs. Our study highlights the need to constantly monitor the evolution of H9N2 viruses in poultry to better understand the potential risk to human health posed by these viruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.00219-11
PMCID: PMC3147996  PMID: 21680519
11.  The PDZ-Ligand and Src-Homology Type 3 Domains of Epidemic Avian Influenza Virus NS1 Protein Modulate Human Src Kinase Activity during Viral Infection 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(11):e27789.
The Non-structural 1 (NS1) protein of avian influenza (AI) viruses is important for pathogenicity. Here, we identify a previously unrecognized tandem PDZ-ligand (TPL) domain in the extreme carboxy terminus of NS1 proteins from a subset of globally circulating AI viruses. By using protein arrays we have identified several human PDZ-cellular ligands of this novel domain, one of which is the RIL protein, a known regulator of the cellular tyrosine kinase Src. We found that the AI NS1 proteins bind and stimulate human Src tyrosine kinase, through their carboxy terminal Src homology type 3-binding (SHB) domain. The physical interaction between NS1 and Src and the ability of AI viruses to modulate the phosphorylation status of Src during the infection, were found to be influenced by the TPL arrangement. These results indicate the potential for novel host-pathogen interactions mediated by the TPL and SHB domains of AI NS1 protein.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0027789
PMCID: PMC3215730  PMID: 22110760
12.  The mouse model is suitable for the study of viral factors governing transmission and pathogenesis of highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses in mammals 
Veterinary Research  2010;41(5):66.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of the H5 and H7 subtype pose a major public health threat due to their capacity to cross the species barrier and infect mammals, for example dogs, cats and humans. In the present study we tested the capacity of selected H7 and H5 HPAI viruses to infect and to be transmitted from infected BALB/c mice to contact sentinels. Previous experiments have shown that viruses belonging to both H5 and H7 subtypes replicate in the respiratory tract and central nervous system of experimentally infected mice. In this study we show that selected H7N1 and H5N1 HPAI viruses can be transmitted from mouse-to-mouse by direct contact, and that in experimentally infected animals they exhibit a different pattern of replication and transmission. Our results can be considered as a starting point for transmission experiments involving other influenza A viruses with α 2-3 receptor affinity in order to better understand the viral factors influencing transmissibility of these viruses in selected mammalian species.
doi:10.1051/vetres/2010038
PMCID: PMC2908239  PMID: 20546698
highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; mouse; transmission; H7; H5
13.  Intracellular Distribution of NS1 Correlates with the Infectivity and Interferon Antagonism of an Avian Influenza Virus (H7N1) ▿  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(22):11858-11865.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses of subtype H7N1 that emerged during an outbreak in 1999 and 2000 in Italy differ from their low-pathogenicity precursor viruses by changes in several genes, including three mutations in the NS1 protein. Two of them involve amino acid exchanges located within or closely adjacent to the nuclear export signal of NS1. The third mutation resulted in a new stop codon and thereby a C-terminal truncation of the NS1 protein of the highly pathogenic viruses. To find out whether these mutations contribute to the phenotypic differences between the highly pathogenic and low pathogenic viruses, we generated recombinants of the highly pathogenic A/ostrich/Italy/984/00 strain that contained the nuclear export signal and/or the extended C terminus of NS1 of a low pathogenic virus (A/chicken/Italy/1082/99). Using these recombinants we could demonstrate that replication rate and spread of infection in chicken fibroblast cultures, as well as infectivity for chicken embryos is reduced, whereas the mean death time for chicken embryos is increased, when the highly pathogenic virus acquires the NS1 motifs of the low pathogenic virus. Analysis of beta interferon transcription in chicken fibroblasts infected with the recombinants revealed that the mutations observed in the nuclear export signal of the highly pathogenic viruses were responsible for the enhanced interferon antagonism of these viruses. Cell fractionation and immunofluorescence studies in chicken fibroblasts showed that the nuclear export signal of the highly pathogenic viruses is responsible for cytoplasmic accumulation of NS1, whereas the C-terminal truncation promotes transport into the nucleoli. Comparative analysis in human A549 cells indicated that intracellular distribution of NS1 is host specific. Taken together, these observations support the concept that compartmentalization of NS1 within the cell contributes to the pathogenicity of avian influenza viruses.
doi:10.1128/JVI.01011-10
PMCID: PMC2977857  PMID: 20844052
14.  Lyssavirus Detection and Typing Using Pyrosequencing▿#‖ 
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2011;49(5):1932-1938.
Rabies is a fatal zoonosis caused by a nonsegmented negative-strand RNA virus, namely, rabies virus (RABV). Apart from RABV, at least 10 additional species are known as rabies-related lyssaviruses (RRVs), and some of them are responsible for occasional spillovers into humans. More lyssaviruses have also been detected recently in different bat ecosystems, thanks to the application of molecular diagnostic methods. Due to the variety of the members of the genus Lyssavirus, there is the necessity to develop a reliable molecular assay for rabies diagnosis able to detect and differentiate among the existing rabies and rabies-related viruses. In the present study, a pyrosequencing protocol targeting the 3′ terminus of the nucleoprotein (N) gene was applied for the rapid characterization of lyssaviruses. Correct identification of species was achieved for each sample tested. Results from the pyrosequencing assay were also confirmed by those obtained using the Sanger sequencing method. A pan-lyssavirus one-step reverse transcription (RT)-PCR was developed within the framework of the pyrosequencing procedure. The sensitivity (Se) of the one-step RT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and serial dilutions of titrated viruses. The assay demonstrated high analytical and relative specificity (Sp) (98.94%) and sensitivity (99.71%). To date, this is the first case in which pyrosequencing has been applied for lyssavirus identification using a cheaper diagnostic approach than the one for all the other protocols for rapid typing that we are acquainted with. Results from this study indicate that this procedure is suitable for lyssavirus detection in samples of both human and animal origin.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02015-10
PMCID: PMC3122702  PMID: 21389152
15.  Serologic Evidence of Pandemic (H1N1) 2009 Infection in Dogs, Italy 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2010;16(12):2019-2021.
doi:10.3201/eid1612.100514
PMCID: PMC3294551  PMID: 21122255
pandemic (H1N1) 2009; influenza A virus; viruses; dogs; Italy; letter
16.  Evolutionary Dynamics of Multiple Sublineages of H5N1 Influenza Viruses in Nigeria from 2006 to 2008 ▿ †  
Journal of Virology  2010;84(7):3239-3247.
Highly pathogenic A/H5N1 avian influenza (HPAI H5N1) viruses have seriously affected the Nigerian poultry industry since early 2006. Previous studies have identified multiple introductions of the virus into Nigeria and several reassortment events between cocirculating lineages. To determine the spatial, evolutionary, and population dynamics of the multiple H5N1 lineages cocirculating in Nigeria, we conducted a phylogenetic analysis of whole-genome sequences from 106 HPAI H5N1 viruses isolated between 2006 and 2008 and representing all 25 Nigerian states and the Federal Capital Territory (FCT) reporting outbreaks. We identified a major new subclade in Nigeria that is phylogenetically distinguishable from all previously identified sublineages, as well as two novel reassortment events. A detailed analysis of viral phylogeography identified two major source populations for the HPAI H5N1 virus in Nigeria, one in a major commercial poultry area (southwest region) and one in northern Nigeria, where contact between wild birds and backyard poultry is frequent. These findings suggested that migratory birds from Eastern Europe or Russia may serve an important role in the introduction of HPAI H5N1 viruses into Nigeria, although virus spread through the movement of poultry and poultry products cannot be excluded. Our study provides new insight into the genesis and evolution of H5N1 influenza viruses in Nigeria and has important implications for targeting surveillance efforts to rapidly identify the spread of the virus into and within Nigeria.
doi:10.1128/JVI.02385-09
PMCID: PMC2838112  PMID: 20071565
17.  One Flu for One Health 
doi:10.3201/eid1604.091593
PMCID: PMC3321965  PMID: 20350399
Influenza; genetics; viruses; zoonoses; globalization; global health; One Health; expedited; letter
18.  Evaluation of different serological tests for the detection of antibodies against highly pathogenic avian influenza in experimentally infected ostriches (Struthio camelus) 
Avian Pathology   2010;39(1):11-15.
In the present study we collected 177 serum samples from ostriches (Struthio camelus) infected experimentally with A/ostrich/South Africa/Middleton/2004 (H5N2) highly pathogenic avian influenza virus. We tested these samples using the haemagglutination inhibition (HI) test, the agar gel immunodiffusion test and three enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay kits. We considered the HI test, with homologous antigen and including pre-treatment of sera with 10% chicken red blood cells, as the gold standard. Detectable specific antibodies appeared on day 7 post-infection and persisted until the termination of the experiment. The relative sensitivity and specificity of the tests under evaluation and Cohen's K value were calculated. The results reported herein could be of assistance to decision-makers in drafting guidelines for the definition of the health status of ostriches and for trade purposes.
doi:10.1080/03079450903431390
PMCID: PMC2817560  PMID: 20390531
19.  H5N1 Virus Evolution in Europe—An Updated Overview 
Viruses  2009;1(3):1351-1363.
Since its emergence in South East Asia in 2003, Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) A/H5N1 has reportedly caused outbreaks in poultry and/or wild birds in 62 countries, of which 24 were in Europe. Interestingly, out of the many genetic clades circulating in Asia, the westward spread of HPAI A/H5N1 to Central Asia, the Middle East, Europe and Africa was dominated by one single clade, namely clade 2.2. In this paper, we review and update through phylogenetic and gene migrational analysis the information concerning the evolution and the molecular epidemiology of HPAI A/H5N1 on the European continent.
doi:10.3390/v1031351
PMCID: PMC3185504  PMID: 21994596
Europe; H5N1; avian influenza
20.  A Closer Look at the NS1 of Influenza Virus 
Viruses  2009;1(3):1057-1072.
The Non-Structural 1 (NS1) protein is a multifactorial protein of type A influenza viruses that plays an important role in the virulence of the virus. A large amount of what we know about this protein has been obtained from studies using human influenza isolates and, consequently, the human NS1 protein. The current global interest in avian influenza, however, has highlighted a number of sequence and functional differences between the human and avian NS1. This review discusses these differences in addition to describing potential uses of NS1 in the management and control of avian influenza outbreaks.
doi:10.3390/v1031057
PMCID: PMC3185538  PMID: 21994582
Non-Structural 1 protein; carboxy terminal; avian influenza; vaccination; DIVA
21.  Pandemic Vaccine Preparedness—Have We Left Something Behind? 
PLoS Pathogens  2009;5(6):e1000482.
doi:10.1371/journal.ppat.1000482
PMCID: PMC2696042  PMID: 19557166
22.  Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza Virus Subtype H5N1 in Africa: A Comprehensive Phylogenetic Analysis and Molecular Characterization of Isolates 
PLoS ONE  2009;4(3):e4842.
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus A/H5N1 was first officially reported in Africa in early 2006. Since the first outbreak in Nigeria, this virus spread rapidly to other African countries. From its emergence to early 2008, 11 African countries experienced A/H5N1 outbreaks in poultry and human cases were also reported in three of these countries. At present, little is known of the epidemiology and molecular evolution of A/H5N1 viruses in Africa. We have generated 494 full gene sequences from 67 African isolates and applied molecular analysis tools to a total of 1,152 A/H5N1 sequences obtained from viruses isolated in Africa, Europe and the Middle East between 2006 and early 2008. Detailed phylogenetic analyses of the 8 gene viral segments confirmed that 3 distinct sublineages were introduced, which have persisted and spread across the continent over this 2-year period. Additionally, our molecular epidemiological studies highlighted the association between genetic clustering and area of origin in a majority of cases. Molecular signatures unique to strains isolated in selected areas also gave us a clearer picture of the spread of A/H5N1 viruses across the continent. Mutations described as typical of human influenza viruses in the genes coding for internal proteins or associated with host adaptation and increased resistance to antiviral drugs have also been detected in the genes coding for transmembrane proteins. These findings raise concern for the possible human health risk presented by viruses with these genetic properties and highlight the need for increased efforts to monitor the evolution of A/H5N1 viruses across the African continent. They further stress how imperative it is to implement sustainable control strategies to improve animal and public health at a global level.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0004842
PMCID: PMC2653644  PMID: 19290041
23.  Introduction into Nigeria of a Distinct Genotype of Avian Influenza Virus (H5N1) 
Emerging Infectious Diseases  2009;15(3):445-447.
Genetic characterization of highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (H5N1) isolated in July 2008 in Nigeria indicates that a distinct genotype, never before detected in Africa, reached the continent. Phylogenetic analysis showed that the viruses are genetically closely related to European and Middle Eastern influenza A (H5N1) isolates detected in 2007.
doi:10.3201/eid1503.081161
PMCID: PMC2681125  PMID: 19239760
Highly pathogenic avian influenza virus; H5N1; Nigeria; phylogenetic analysis; dispatch
24.  Co-circulation of two sublineages of HPAI H5N1 virus in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with unique molecular signatures suggesting separate introductions into the commercial poultry and falconry sectors 
The Journal of General Virology  2008;89(Pt 11):2691-2697.
Since early 2007, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) has experienced several highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) H5N1 outbreaks in the falconry and poultry sectors. The public health threat associated with peculiar husbandry systems, requiring close contact between humans and birds of prey, highlights the need of an improved understanding of the epidemiology and of the viral characteristics of H5N1 viruses circulating in the region. Here we report molecular and phylogenetic analyses of H5N1 viruses isolated in the KSA in 2007 in distinct compartments of avian husbandry. From the results of our investigation it appears that two separate introductions into the different sectors occurred. The identification of specific amino acid mutations, which are described as genetic signatures of human influenza A viruses or known to confer resistance to antiviral drugs, raises concerns for the possible human health implications of the KSA H5N1 viruses.
doi:10.1099/vir.0.2008/004259-0
PMCID: PMC2886959  PMID: 18931064
25.  Development and Validation of a One-Step Real-Time PCR Assay for Simultaneous Detection of Subtype H5, H7, and H9 Avian Influenza Viruses▿  
Journal of Clinical Microbiology  2008;46(5):1769-1773.
Among the different hemagglutinin (HA) subtypes of avian influenza (AI) viruses, H5, H7, and H9 are of major interest because of the serious consequences for the poultry industry and the increasing frequency of direct transmission of these viruses to humans. The availability of new tools to rapidly detect and subtype the influenza viruses can enable the immediate application of measures to prevent the widespread transmission of the infection. In this study, a novel one-step real-time reverse transcription-PCR (RRT-PCR) was developed to detect simultaneously the H5, H7, and H9 subtypes of AI viruses from clinical samples of avian origin. The sensitivity of the RRT-PCR assay was determined by using in vitro-transcribed RNA and 10-fold serial dilutions of titrated AI viruses. High sensitivity levels were obtained, with limits of detection ranging from 101 to 103 RNA copies and from 101 50% egg infectious dose (EID50)/100 μl to 102.74 EID50/100 μl with titrated viruses. Excellent results were achieved in the intra- and interassay variability tests. The comparison of the results with those obtained from the analysis of 725 avian samples by means of the reference method (virus isolation [VI]) showed a high level of agreement. To date, this is the first real-time PCR protocol available for the simultaneous detection of AI viruses belonging to subtypes H5, H7, and H9, and the results obtained indicate that this method is suitable as a routine laboratory test for the rapid detection and differentiation of the three most-important AI virus subtypes in samples of avian origin.
doi:10.1128/JCM.02204-07
PMCID: PMC2395090  PMID: 18367569

Results 1-25 (32)