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H9N2 avian influenza virus (AIV) has caused significant losses in chicken flocks throughout china in recent years. There is a limited understanding of the genetic and antigenic characteristics of the H9N2 virus isolated in chickens in southwestern China. In this study a total of 12 field strains were isolated from tissue samples from diseased chickens between 2013 and 2016. Phylogenetic analysis of the Hemagglutinin (HA) and Neuraminidase (NA) nucleotide sequences from the 12 field isolates and other reference strains showed that most of the isolates in the past four years could be clustered into a major branch (HA-branch A and NA-branch I) in the Clade h9.4.2 lineages. These sequences are accompanied by nine and seven new amino acids mutations in the HA and NA proteins, respectively, when compared with those previous to 2013. In addition, four new isolates were grouped into a minor branch (HA-branch B) in the Clade h9.4.2 lineages and two potential N-glycosylation sites were observed due to amino acid mutations in the HA protein. Three antigenic groups (1-3), which had low antigenic relatedness with two commonly used vaccines in China, were identified among the 12 isolates by antigenMap analysis. Immunoprotection testing showed that those two vaccines could efficiently prevent the shedding of branch A viruses but not branch B viruses. In conclusion, these results indicate the genotype of branch B may become epidemic in the next few years and that a new vaccine should be developed for the prevention of H9N2 AIV.


Jing Xia, Jia-Qi Cui, Xiao He, Yue-Yue Liu, Ke-Chang Yao, San-Jie Cao, Xin-Feng Han, Yong Huang. Genetic and antigenic evolution of H9N2 subtype avian influenza virus in domestic chickens in southwestern China, 2013-2016. PloS one. 2017;12(2):e0171564

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PMID: 28158271

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