G1-like PB2 gene improves virus replication and competitive advantage of H9N2 virus

Virus Genes. 2021 Sep 14. doi: 10.1007/s11262-021-01870-9. Online ahead of print.


H9N2 subtype avian influenza virus has dramatically evolved and undergone extensive reassortment since its emergence in early 1990s in China. The genotype S (G57), emerging in 2007 with the substitution of F98-like PB2 and M gene by G1-like ones, has become the overwhelming predominant genotype for the past 11 years since 2010. Here, we found that virus with G1-like PB2 were more efficient in protein expression and in infectious virus production than that with F98-like PB2 gene. By coinfected MDCK cells with the reassortant virus, more survival opportunity for viruses with G1-like PB2 than that of F/98-like was observed. Besides, in animal experiments, we found that the G1-like PB2 increases virus infectivity, replication, and virus shedding of H9N2 in chickens. Our results suggested that the substitution of G1-like PB2 play important role in promoting the fitness of genotype S H9N2 virus in China.

Keywords: Competitive advantage; H9N2 virus; PB2 gene; Virus replication.