Pathogenicity and amino acid sequences of hemagglutinin cleavage site and neuraminidase stalk of differently passaged H9N2-avian influenza virus in broilers


Low pathogenic Avian Influenza (AI) virus has the ability to evolve to high pathogenic viruses resulting in significant economic losses in the poultry sector. This study aims at assessing the impact of H9N2 viral passaging in broilers and its relatedness to pathogenicity and amino acid (a.a) sequences of the hemagglutinin (HA) cleavage site and neuraminidase (NA) stalk. The original H9N2 AI virus (P0) was used to challenge ten-21 days old broilers. Individual recovery of H9N2 virus from homogenates of trachea, lungs and airsacs was attempted in 9 days old chicken embryos, as a conclusion of the first passage (P1). Tracheal isolates of H9N2 were passaged for a second (P2) and a third (P3) time in broilers, followed by a similar embryonic recovery procedure. The a.a. sequence of a part of HA1 cleavage site and Neuraminidase stalk were compared among the differently passaged viruses; an assessement of the relatedness of the determined a.a. sequences to the pathogenicity in broilers, based on frequency of mortality, morbidity signs, gross and microscopic lesions at 3 days post challenge with the P1, P2, and P3-H9N2, is concluded. An increase in certain morbidity signs and specific lesions was observed in P2- and P3-H9N2 challenged broilers compared to birds challenged with P1-H9N2. A conserved R-S-S-R amino acid sequence at the HA1 cleavage site was observed in the differently passaged H9N2, associated with a variability in the NA stalk-a.a sequences. The passaging of the low pathogenic H9N2 virus in broilers leads to a trend of increase in pathogenicity, manifested in higher frequency of morbidity signs, and of specific gross and microscopic lesions of the examined organs. This passaging was associated with a conserved a.a. sequence of the hemaglutinin cleavage site and a variability in the sequence of the neuraminidase stalk. A detailed study of the potential of the detected variability in the neuraminidase stalk of H9N2 in induction of a higher pathogenicity in broilers will be the subject of future investigations.

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Shaib, H. , Cochet, N. , Ribeiro, T. , Nour, A. , Nemer, G. , Saade, M. and Barbour, E. (2011) Pathogenicity and amino acid sequences of hemagglutinin cleavage site and neuraminidase stalk of differently passaged H9N2-avian influenza virus in broilers. Advances in Bioscience and Biotechnology, 2, 198-206. doi: 10.4236/abb.2011.24030.

Conflicts of Interest

The authors declare no conflicts of interest.


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