Influenza A virus encodes two segments (7 and 8) that produce mRNAs that can be spliced. We have investigated if naturally occurring sequence polymorphisms in the influenza A virus family affects splicing of these viral mRNAs, as that could potentially alter the NS1/NS2- and/or M1/M2-protein ratios. We compared splicing efficiency of segment 7 and 8 mRNAs of A/Brevig Mission/1918/1 (H1N1) and A/Netherlands/178/95 (H3N2), as well as various H5N1 avian strains. Results revealed that both segment 7 and 8 mRNAs of A/Brevig Mission/1918/1 (H1N1) were inefficiently spliced compared to other influenza virus segment 7 and 8 mRNAs. This resulted in production of higher levels of functional NS1 protein, which could potentially contribute to the pathogenic properties of the A/Brevig Mission/1918/1 (H1N1). We also show that A/Brevig Mission/1918/1 (H1N1) segment 8 mRNAs responded differently to overexpression of SR proteins than A/Netherlands/178/95 (H3N2).
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