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MOLECULAR PATHOGENESIS OF INFLUENZA IN SWINE AND ENGINEERING OF NOVEL RECOMBINANT INFLUENZA VIRUSES
Pena, Lindomar Jose
Perez, Daniel R
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Influenza A viruses (IAVs) belong to the family Orthomyxoviridae and represent major pathogens of both humans and animals. Swine influenza virus is an important pathogen that affects not only the swine industry, but also represents a constant threat to the turkey industry and is of particular concern to public health. In North America, H3N2 triple reassortant (TR) IAVs first emerged in 1998 and have since become endemic in swine populations. In the first part of this dissertation, we focused on the role of surface glycoproteins and PB1-F2 to unravel their roles in the virulence of TR IAVs in this important natural host. We found that surface glycoproteins are necessary and sufficient for the lung pathology, whereas the internal genes play a major role in the febrile response induced by TR H3N2 IAVs in swine. With respect to PB1-F2, we found that PB1-F2 exerts pleiotropic effects in the swine host, which are expressed in a strain-dependent manner. Pathogenicity studies in swine revealed that the presence of PB1-F2 leads the following effects in context of three TR strains tested: no effect in the context of sw/99 strain; increases the virulence of pH1N1; and decreases the virulence of ty/04. Next, we developed temperature-sensitive live attenuated influenza vaccines for use in swine and shown that these vaccines are safe and efficacious against aggressive intratracheal challenge with pH1N1. Lastly, we rearranged the genome of an avian H9N2 influenza virus to generate replication competent influenza virus vectors that provide a robust system for expression and delivery of foreign genes. As a proof-of-principle, we expressed the hemagglutinin from a prototypical highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) H5N1 and shown that this vectored H5 vaccine retained its safety properties in avian and mammalian species, and induced excellent protection against aggressive HPAIV H5N1 challenges in both mice and ferrets. Taken together, these studies have advanced our understanding of molecular basis of pathogenesis of influenza in the swine host and have contributed to the development of improved vaccines and influenza-based vectors with potential applications in both human and veterinary medicine.