N-linked glycosylation of the influenza virus hemagglutinin (HA) protein plays crucial roles in HA structure and function, evasion of neutralizing antibodies, and susceptibility to innate soluble antiviral factors. The N-linked glycosylation site at position 158 of highly pathogenic H5N1 virus was previously shown to affect viral receptor-binding preference. H5N1 viruses show heterogeneity with respect to the presence of this glycosylation site. Clade 1 viruses that caused outbreaks in Southeast Asia in 2004 contained this glycosylation site, while the site is absent in the more recent clade 2 viruses. Here, we show that elimination of this glycosylation site increases viral virulence in mice. The mutant lacking the glycosylation site at position 158 showed unaltered growth kinetics in vitro and a comparable level of sensitivity to a major antiviral protein found in respiratory secretions, surfactant protein D (SP-D).
Archives of Virology – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 1, 2015
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