A simple molecular technique was used for the rapid preliminary genetic characterization of human influenza A H3N2 viruses isolated in Spain from 1996 to 2000. Subtyping, based on RT-PCR, was followed by subtype-specific restriction enzyme fragment length polymorphism (RFLP) analyses of an amplified region of the HA1 domain of the H3 haemagglutinin (HA) gene to distinguish variants differentiated by common amino acid substitutions in HA1. The approach was tested using 135 Spanish H3N2 isolates and included nucleotide sequencing and phylogenetic analyses of a region of the HA1 domain of 41 representative isolates. The viruses were distinguished by haemagglutination inhibition (HI) assays into two antigenically discernible groups, the A/Wuhan/359/95-like and A/Sydney/5/97-like viruses. The results of PCR-RFLP analysis allowed a finer classification into five genetic variant subgroups, corresponding to those distinguished by phylogenetic analyses. This rapid, simple and variant-specific procedure could, therefore, be used to rapidly screen clinical specimens prior to more detailed antigenic and genetic analyses.
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Nov 1, 2001
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