The 2014-15 influenza season saw the emergence of an H3N2 antigenic drift variant that formed the 3C.2a HA clade. Whole viral genomes were sequenced from nasopharyngeal swabs of ninety-four patients with confirmed influenza A virus infection and primary human nasal epithelial cell cultures used to efficiently isolate H3N2 viruses. The isolates were classified by HA clade and the presence of a new set of co-selected mutations in NA (a glycosylation site, NAg+) and PB1-F2 (H75P). The NA and PB1-F2 mutations were present in a subset of clade 3C.2a viruses (NAg+F2P), which dominated during the subsequent influenza seasons. In human nasal epithelial cell cultures, a virus with the novel NAg+F2P genotype replicated less well compared with a virus with the parental genotype. Retrospective analyses of clinical data showed that NAg+F2P genotype viruses were associated with increased cough and shortness of breath in infected patients.
- antigenic drift
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