Infectious Diseases 2006

Infectious Diseases 2006

Scientists identify key mutations in avian influenza virus.

Research 16 November, 2006

A group of scientists has discovered two mutations in the haemagglutinin protein of the H5N1 avian influenza virus that enable it to bind more easily to human cells. Some H5N1 viruses isolated from humans can bind to both human and avian receptors, in contrast to those isolated from chickens and ducks, which recognize the avian receptors exclusively. Mutations at positions 182 and 192 independently convert the HAs of H5N1 viruses known to recognize the avian receptor to ones that recognize the human receptor. The amino acid changes that were identified in this study might serve as molecular markers for assessing the pandemic potential of H5N1 field isolates (Nature 444:378-382, 2006).