We reported previously that equine-2 influenza A virus (H3N8) had evolved into two genetically and antigenically distinct “Eurasian” and “American” lineages. Phylogenetic analysis, using the HA1 gene of more recent American isolates, indicated a further divergence of these viruses into three evolution lineages: A South American lineage, a Kentucky lineage, and a Florida lineage. These multiple evolution pathways were not due to geographic barriers, as viruses from different lineages co-circulated. For the Kentucky lineage, the evolution rate was estimated to be 0.89 amino acid substitutions per year, which agreed with the previously estimated rate of 0.8. For the South American lineage, the evolution rate was estimated to be only 0.27 amino acid substitutions per year. This low evolution rate was probably due to a unique alternating Ser138 to Ala138 substitutions at antigenic site A. For the Kentucky lineage, there was a preference for sequential nonsynonymous substitutions at antigenic site B, which was also a “hot spot” for amino acid substitutions. Convalescent sera had minimal cross-reactivity to viruses of different lineages, indicating antigenic distinctions among these viruses. In contrast to human H3N2 viruses, our results suggested that the evolution of equine-2 influenza virus resembled the multiple evolution pathways of influenza B virus.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Jun 1, 2001
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