Molecular basis for the generation in pigs of influenza A viruses with pandemic potential

J Virol. 1998 Sep;72(9):7367-73. doi: 10.1128/JVI.72.9.7367-7373.1998.


Genetic and biologic observations suggest that pigs may serve as "mixing vessels" for the generation of human-avian influenza A virus reassortants, similar to those responsible for the 1957 and 1968 pandemics. Here we demonstrate a structural basis for this hypothesis. Cell surface receptors for both human and avian influenza viruses were identified in the pig trachea, providing a milieu conducive to viral replication and genetic reassortment. Surprisingly, with continued replication, some avian-like swine viruses acquired the ability to recognize human virus receptors, raising the possibility of their direct transmission to human populations. These findings help to explain the emergence of pandemic influenza viruses and support the need for continued surveillance of swine for viruses carrying avian virus genes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Biological
  • Amino Acid Sequence
  • Amino Acids
  • Animals
  • Binding Sites
  • Ducks
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / chemistry*
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / classification
  • Influenza A virus / metabolism*
  • Influenza A virus / physiology
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Phylogeny
  • Receptors, Virus / chemistry*
  • Receptors, Virus / metabolism
  • Sequence Homology, Amino Acid
  • Swine
  • Trachea / virology


  • Amino Acids
  • Hemagglutinin Glycoproteins, Influenza Virus
  • Receptors, Virus

Associated data

  • GENBANK/AF091306
  • GENBANK/AF091307
  • GENBANK/AF091308
  • GENBANK/AF091309
  • GENBANK/AF091310
  • GENBANK/AF091311
  • GENBANK/AF091312
  • GENBANK/AF091313
  • GENBANK/AF091314
  • GENBANK/AF091315
  • GENBANK/AF091316
  • GENBANK/AF091317