Characterization of influenza virus sialic acid receptors in minor poultry species

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2010-12-09

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Kimble, B., Nieto, G.R. & Perez, D.R. Characterization of influenza virus sialic acid receptors in minor poultry species. Virol J 7, 365 (2010).

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Abstract

It is commonly accepted that avian influenza viruses (AIVs) bind to terminal a2,3 sialic acid (SA) residues whereas human influenza viruses bind to a2,6 SA residues. By a series of amino acid changes on the HA surface protein, AIVs can switch receptor specificity and recognize a2,6 SA positive cells, including human respiratory epithelial cells. Animal species, like pigs and Japanese quail, that contain both a2,3 and a2,6 SA become ideal environments for receptor switching. Here, we describe the SA patterns and distributions in 6 common minor domestic poultry species: Peking duck, Toulouse geese, Chinese ring-neck pheasant, white midget turkey, bobwhite quail, and pearl guinea fowl. Lectins specific to a2,3 and a2,6 SA (Maakia amurensis agglutinin and Sambuca nigra agglutinin, respectively) were used to detect SA by an alkaline phosphotase-based method and a fluorescent-based method. Differences in SA moieties and their ability to bind influenza viruses were visualized by fluorescent labeling of 4 different H3N2 influenza viruses known to be specific for one receptor or the other. The geese and ducks showed a2,3 SA throughout the respiratory tract and marginal a2,6 SA only in the colon. The four other avian species showed both a2,3 and a2,6 SA in the respiratory tract and the intestines. Furthermore, the turkey respiratory tract showed a positive correlation between age and a2,6 SA levels. The fact that these birds have both avian and human flu receptors, combined with their common presence in backyard farms and live bird markets worldwide, mark them as potential mixing bowl species and necessitates improved surveillance and additional research about the role of these birds in influenza host switching.

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