Evolution of pig influenza viruses

Virology. 1991 Jul;183(1):61-73. doi: 10.1016/0042-6822(91)90118-u.


There is evidence that the nucleoprotein (NP) gene of the classical swine virus (A/Swine/1976/31) clusters with the early human strains at the nucleotide sequence level, while at the level of the amino acid sequence, as defined by consensus amino acids and in functional tests, its NP is clearly "avian like." Therefore it was suggested that the Sw/31 NP had been recently under strong selection pressure, possibly caused by reassortment with other avian influenza genes, whose gene products have to cooperate intimately with NP (Gammelin et al., 1989. Virology 170, 71-80). This suggestion has been investigated by sequencing the genes of internal and nonstructural proteins of Sw/31. The data on these sequences and on the phylogenetic trees are not in accordance with that suggestion: all these genes cluster with the early human strains at the nucleotide level while, at the level of the amino acid sequence, most of them are more closely related to the avian strains, thus resembling NP in this respect. This indicates that these genes rather evolved concomitantly with the NP gene. Our data are in agreement with the suggestion that, at about the time of the Spanish Flu (1918/19), a human influenza A (H1N1) virus entered the pig population. Furthermore, it is known that the NP of the human influenza A viruses--in contrast to that of the avian and swine strains--has been under strong selection pressure to change (Gammelin et al., 1990. Mol. Biol. Evol. 7, 194-200. Gorman et al., 1990a. J. Virol. 64, 1487-1497). Thus, after transfer of a human strain into pigs, the selection pressure might be released, enabling the NP and the other genes of the swine virus to evolve back to the optimal avian sequences, especially at the functionally important consensus positions. The swine influenza viruses circulating since 1979 in Northern Europe--represented by A/Swine/Germany/2/81 (H1N1)--have all genes, so far examined, derived from an avian influenza virus pool and are different from the classical swine viruses.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Chick Embryo
  • Consensus Sequence
  • Genes, Viral
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / genetics*
  • Nucleoproteins / genetics
  • Phylogeny*
  • RNA Replicase*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins*
  • Swine
  • Viral Core Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / genetics*


  • NP protein, Influenza A virus
  • Nucleoproteins
  • PA protein, influenza viruses
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Viral Core Proteins
  • Viral Proteins
  • RNA Replicase

Associated data

  • GENBANK/M55469
  • GENBANK/M55470
  • GENBANK/M55471
  • GENBANK/M55472
  • GENBANK/M55473
  • GENBANK/M55474
  • GENBANK/M55475
  • GENBANK/M55476
  • GENBANK/M55477
  • GENBANK/M55478