With the introduction of the influenza specific neuraminidase inhibitors (NAIs) in 1999, there were concerns about the emergence and spread of resistant viruses in the community setting. Surveillance and testing of community isolates for their susceptibility to the NAIs was initially carried out by the Neuraminidase Inhibitor Susceptibility Network (NISN).and has subsequently been taken on by the global WHO influenza network laboratories. During the NISN surveillance, we identified two Yamagata lineage influenza B viruses with amino acid substitutions of H134Y (B/Auckland/2/2001) or W438R (B/Yokohama/12/2005) which had slightly elevated IC values for zanamivir and/or oseltamivir, but not sufficiently to be characterized as mild outliers at the time. As it has now been well demonstrated that mixed populations can mask the true magnitude of resistance of a mutant, we re-examined both of these isolates by plaque purification to see if the true susceptibilities were being masked due to mixed populations. Results confirmed that the B/Auckland isolate contained both wild type and H134Y mutant populations, with mutant IC values >250 nM for both oseltamivir and peramivir in the enzyme inhibition assay. The B/Yokohama isolate also contained both wild type and W438R mutant populations, the latter now demonstrating IC values >400 nM for zanamivir, oseltamivir and peramivir. In addition, plaque purification of the B/Yokohama isolate identified viruses with other single neuraminidase substitutions H134Y, H134R, H431R, or T436P. H134R and H431R viruses had IC values >400 nM and >250 nM respectively against all three NAIs. All changes conferred much greater resistance to peramivir than to zanamivir, and less to oseltamivir, and affected the kinetics of binding and dissociation of the NAIs. Most affected affinity (K) for the MUNANA substrate, but some had decreased while others had increased affinity. Despite resistance in the enzyme assay, no reduced susceptibility was seen in plaque reduction assays in MDCK cells for any of the mutant viruses. None of these substitutions was in the active site. Modelling suggests that these substitutions affect the 150 and 430-loop regions described for influenza A NAs, suggesting they may also be important for substrate and inhibitor binding for influenza B NAs.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.