Phylogenic analysis of all gene segments of human H2N2 viruses isolated from 1957 to 1968 was undertaken to better understand the evolution of this virus subtype. Human H3N2 viruses isolated from 1968 to 1972 were also examined to investigate genetic events associated with their emergence in humans and to identify the putative H2N2 ancestral virus. All gene segments of human H2N2 viruses demonstrated divergent evolution into two distinct clades (I and II) among late H2N2 isolates. All gene segments of 1968 H3N2 viruses that were retained from human H2N2 viruses were most similar to clade I H2N2 genes. However, genes of both clades were found among H3N2 isolates of 1969-1971. Unique phylogenic topologies reflected multiple reassortment events among late H2N2 or H3N2 viruses that resulted in a variety of different genome constellations. These results suggest that H2N2 viruses continued to circulate after 1968 and that establishment of H3N2 viruses in humans was associated with multiple reassortment events that contributed to their genetic diversity.
Copyright 2004 Elsevier Inc.