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Subtype-specific structural constraints in the evolution of influenza A virus hemagglutinin genes.

Subtype-specific structural constraints in the evolution of influenza A virus hemagglutinin genes.
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Gultyaev AP, Spronken MI, Richard M, Schrauwen EJ, Olsthoorn RC, Fouchier RA,


Gultyaev AP, Spronken MI, Richard M, Schrauwen EJ, Olsthoorn RC, Fouchier RA, (click to view)

Gultyaev AP, Spronken MI, Richard M, Schrauwen EJ, Olsthoorn RC, Fouchier RA,

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Scientific reports 2016 12 146() 38892 doi 10.1038/srep38892
Abstract

The influenza A virus genome consists of eight RNA segments. RNA structures within these segments and complementary (cRNA) and protein-coding mRNAs may play a role in virus replication. Here, conserved putative secondary structures that impose significant evolutionary constraints on the gene segment encoding the surface glycoprotein hemagglutinin (HA) were investigated using available sequence data on tens of thousands of virus strains. Structural constraints were identified by analysis of covariations of nucleotides suggested to be paired by structure prediction algorithms. The significance of covariations was estimated by mutual information calculations and tracing multiple covariation events during virus evolution. Covariation patterns demonstrated that structured domains in HA RNAs were mostly subtype-specific, whereas some structures were conserved in several subtypes. The influence of RNA folding on virus replication was studied by plaque assays of mutant viruses with disrupted structures. The results suggest that over the whole length of the HA segment there are local structured domains which contribute to the virus fitness but individually are not essential for the virus. Existence of subtype-specific structured regions in the segments of the influenza A virus genome is apparently an important factor in virus evolution and reassortment of its genes.

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