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Electrostatic Variation of Haemagglutinin as a Hallmark of the Evolution of Avian Influenza Viruses.

Electrostatic Variation of Haemagglutinin as a Hallmark of the Evolution of Avian Influenza Viruses.
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Heidari A, Righetto I, Filippini F,


Heidari A, Righetto I, Filippini F, (click to view)

Heidari A, Righetto I, Filippini F,

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Scientific reports 2018 01 318(1) 1929 doi 10.1038/s41598-018-20225-3
Abstract

Avian influenza virus is a zoonotic agent that significantly impacts public health and the poultry industry. Monitoring viral evolution and spread is crucial for surveillance and tracing programmes, which are currently based on serological or DNA sequencing-phylogenetics analysis. However, virus-host interactions, antigenic drift and spreading of viral clades strongly depend on variation in the surface features of capsid proteins. We report here that in silico comparative structural analysis of haemagglutinin can reveal relevant evolutionary fingerprints, particularly when integrated with sequence-based analyses. Phylogenetic analyses of H9 viral strains from wild birds and poultry, performed with different methods, reliably led to clustering of viruses into five main groups. Subsequent comparison of structural features showed congruence between such clustering and surface electrostatic fingerprints. These latter fingerprints relate group-specific variations in electrostatic charges and isocontours to well-known haemagglutinin sites involved in the modulation of immune escape and host specificity. This work suggests that the integration of structural and sequence comparisons may enhance investigations of trends and relevant mechanisms in viral evolution.

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