Molecular characterization and evolutionary dynamics of influenza A(H1N1) strains isolated from 2015 to 2017 in North India

Iran J Microbiol. 2024 Apr;16(2):243-250. doi: 10.18502/ijm.v16i2.15358.


Background and objectives: The influenza A(H1N1) virus is known for large outbreaks, epidemics and pandemics worldwide owing to its genome plasticity which evolves constantly. In the year 2015 and then in 2017, India witnessed an upsurge in cases.

Materials and methods: The study was carried out in this period (2015-2017) with samples from 5 states across north India. The hemagglutinin 1 (HA1) and non-structural 1 (NS1) gene segments of the viral genome were characterised by phylogenetic analysis, selection pressure analysis, prediction of potential glycosylation sites and phylodynamic analysis of the study strains.

Results: The study strains belonged to genogroup 6B. A total of 12 mutations were observed, half of which were located on the key receptor binding region of the HA1 protein. Established virulence markers D222G, S183P were observed in 2017 samples. Acquisition of an extra glycosylation site was observed in few strains from 2017 and 2016. Selection pressure analysis found the average dN/dS (v) ratio of 0.2106 and few codon sites in particular showed significant evidence of being under negative selection.

Conclusion: The genogroup 6B continues to be the dominant circulating strain in Indian subcontinent region however the presence of pathogenic mutations in the 2017 strains from north India underlines the importance of continued molecular surveillance.

Keywords: Genotype; H1N1 subtype; Heamagglutinins; India; Influenza A virus; Mutation; Phylogeny.