Fecal Influenza in Mammals: Selection of Novel Variants

KOÇER Z. A., Obenauer J., Zaraket H., Zhang J., Rehg J. E., Russell C. J., ...More

JOURNAL OF VIROLOGY, vol.87, no.21, pp.11476-11486, 2013 (SCI-Expanded) identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 87 Issue: 21
  • Publication Date: 2013
  • Doi Number: 10.1128/jvi.01544-13
  • Journal Indexes: Science Citation Index Expanded (SCI-EXPANDED), Scopus
  • Page Numbers: pp.11476-11486
  • Dokuz Eylül University Affiliated: No


In aquatic birds, influenza A viruses mainly replicate in the intestinal tract without significantly affecting the health of the host, but in mammals, they replicate in the respiratory tract and often cause disease. Occasionally, influenza viruses have been detected in stool samples of hospitalized patients and in rectal swabs of naturally or experimentally infected mammals. In this study, we compared the biological and molecular differences among four wild-type avian H1N1 influenza viruses and their corresponding fecal and lung isolates in DBA/2J and BALB/cJ mice. All fecal and lung isolates were more pathogenic than the original wild-type viruses, when inoculated into mice of both strains. The increased virulence was associated with the acquisition of genetic mutations. Most of the novel genotypes emerged as PB2(E627K), HA(F128V), HA(F454L), or HA(H300P) variations, and double mutations frequently occurred in the same isolate. However, influenza virus strain-and host-specific differences were also observed in terms of selected variants. The avian H1N1 virus of shorebird origin appeared to be unique in its ability to rapidly adapt to BALB/cJ mice via the fecal route, compared to the adaptability of the H1N1 virus of mallard origin. Furthermore, a bimodal distribution in fecal shedding was observed in mice infected with the fecal isolates, while a normal distribution was observed after infection with the lung isolates or wild-type virus. Fecal isolates contained HA mutations that increased the activation pH of the HA protein. We conclude that influenza virus variants that emerge in fecal isolates in mammals might influence viral transmission, adaptation to mammals, and viral ecology or evolution.