Influenza Virus Genetics

Biomed Pharmacother. 2000 May;54(4):196-209. doi: 10.1016/S0753-3322(00)89026-5.


Significant progress has been made in understanding the process of influenza A virus replication in cell culture; however, much less is known about the genetic control of virus-host interactions in disease. This review provides an overview of the genetic analysis of influenza virus biology. The functional map of the individual genes of influenza A virus is presented as well as the status of our current understanding of pathogenesis. Influenza has a segmented genome so it is possible to obtain reassortants that contain novel combinations of genome segments derived from different viruses. This is a very useful genetic tool and is also an important aspect of influenza evolution and biology. Human influenza viruses originate from avian strains of influenza virus so that influenza infection is at its basis a zoonosis. Influenza virus strains are host-restricted, however, and avian strains must be adapted to the human host. So questions of host-range and interaction with host factors are important determinants of the ability of influenza virus to cause disease in humans. Host-range is restricted primarily due to host-specific interactions of the ribonucleocapsid and the viral receptor. There are two classes of drugs for inhibiting influenza infection, amantadine HCl and neuraminidase inhibitors. The mode of action and basis for resistance to these drugs are presented. Prospective targets for antiviral therapy are also discussed.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Amantadine / therapeutic use
  • Enzyme Inhibitors / therapeutic use
  • Humans
  • Influenza, Human / drug therapy
  • Mutation
  • Neuraminidase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Orthomyxoviridae / chemistry
  • Orthomyxoviridae / classification
  • Orthomyxoviridae / genetics*
  • Viral Proteins / analysis
  • Viral Proteins / immunology
  • Virulence
  • Virus Replication


  • Enzyme Inhibitors
  • Viral Proteins
  • Amantadine
  • Neuraminidase