Influenza A viruses are known to primarily replicate in duck intestine following infection via the oral route, but the specific role of neuraminidase (NA) for the intestinal tropism of influenza A viruses has been unclear. A reassortant virus (Dk78/Eng62N2) did not propagate in ducks infected via the oral route. To generate variant viruses that grow well in ducks via the oral route, we isolated viruses that effectively replicate in intestinal mucosal cells by passaging Dk78/Eng62N2 in duck via rectal-route infection. This procedure led to the isolation of a variant virus from the duck intestine. This virus was propagated using embryonated chicken eggs and inoculated into a duck via the oral route, which led to the isolation of Dk-rec6 from the duck intestine. Experimental infections with mutant viruses generated by using reverse genetics indicated that the paired mutation of residues 356 and 431 in NA was necessary for the viral replication in duck intestine. The NA assay revealed that the activity of Dk78/Eng62N2 almost disappeared after pH 3 treatment, whereas that of Dk-rec6 was maintained. Furthermore, to identify the amino acid residues associated with the low-pH resistance, we measured the activities of mutant NA proteins transiently expressed in 293 cells after pH 3 treatment. All mutant NA proteins that possessed proline at position 431 showed higher activities than NA proteins that possessed glutamine at this position. These findings indicate that the low-pH resistance of NA plays an important role in the ability of influenza A virus to replicate in duck intestine.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science