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Keywords:

  • Influenza A viruses;
  • mutation;
  • pandemics;
  • PB1F2 protein;
  • truncation

Please cite this paper as: Pasricha et al. (2012) Comprehensive global amino acid sequence analysis of PB1F2 protein of influenza A H5N1 viruses and the Influenza A virus subtypes responsible for the 20th-century pandemics. Influenza and Other Respiratory Viruses 7(4), 497–505.

Background  PB1F2 is the 11th protein of influenza A virus translated from +1 alternate reading frame of PB1 gene. Since the discovery, varying sizes and functions of the PB1F2 protein of influenza A viruses have been reported. Selection of PB1 gene segment in the pandemics, variable size and pleiotropic effect of PB1F2 intrigued us to analyze amino acid sequences of this protein in various influenza A viruses.

Methods  Amino acid sequences for PB1F2 protein of influenza A H5N1, H1N1, H2N2, and H3N2 subtypes were obtained from Influenza Research Database. Multiple sequence alignments of the PB1F2 protein sequences of the aforementioned subtypes were used to determine the size, variable and conserved domains and to perform mutational analysis.

Results  Analysis showed that 96·4% of the H5N1 influenza viruses harbored full-length PB1F2 protein. Except for the 2009 pandemic H1N1 virus, all the subtypes of the 20th-century pandemic influenza viruses contained full-length PB1F2 protein. Through the years, PB1F2 protein of the H1N1 and H3N2 viruses has undergone much variation. PB1F2 protein sequences of H5N1 viruses showed both human- and avian host-specific conserved domains. Global database of PB1F2 protein revealed that N66S mutation was present only in 3·8% of the H5N1 strains. We found a novel mutation, N84S in the PB1F2 protein of 9·35% of the highly pathogenic avian influenza H5N1 influenza viruses.

Conclusions  Varying sizes and mutations of the PB1F2 protein in different influenza A virus subtypes with pandemic potential were obtained. There was genetic divergence of the protein in various hosts which highlighted the host-specific evolution of the virus. However, studies are required to correlate this sequence variability with the virulence and pathogenicity.