The potential for respiratory droplet-transmissible A/H5N1 influenza virus to evolve in a mammalian host

Colin A. Russell, Judith M. Fonville, André E.X. Brown, David F. Burke, David L. Smith, Sarah L. James, Sander Herfst, Sander Van Boheemen, Martin Linster, Eefje J. Schrauwen, Leah Katzelnick, Ana Mosterín, Thijs Kuiken, Eileen Maher, Gabriele Neumann, Albert D.M.E. Osterhaus, Yoshihiro Kawaoka, Ron A.M. Fouchier, Derek J. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

Abstract

Avian A/H5N1 influenza viruses pose a pandemic threat. As few as five amino acid substitutions, or four with reassortment, might be sufficient for mammal-to-mammal transmission through respiratory droplets. From surveillance data, we found that two of these substitutions are common in A/H5N1 viruses, and thus, some viruses might require only three additional substitutions to become transmissible via respiratory droplets between mammals. We used a mathematical model of within-host virus evolution to study factors that could increase and decrease the probability of the remaining substitutions evolving after the virus has infected a mammalian host. These factors, combined with the presence of some of these substitutions in circulating strains, make a virus evolving in nature a potentially serious threat. These results highlight critical areas in which more data are needed for assessing, and potentially averting, this threat.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1541-1547
Number of pages7
JournalScience
Volume336
Issue number6088
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 22 2012

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

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    Russell, C. A., Fonville, J. M., Brown, A. E. X., Burke, D. F., Smith, D. L., James, S. L., Herfst, S., Van Boheemen, S., Linster, M., Schrauwen, E. J., Katzelnick, L., Mosterín, A., Kuiken, T., Maher, E., Neumann, G., Osterhaus, A. D. M. E., Kawaoka, Y., Fouchier, R. A. M., & Smith, D. J. (2012). The potential for respiratory droplet-transmissible A/H5N1 influenza virus to evolve in a mammalian host. Science, 336(6088), 1541-1547. https://doi.org/10.1126/science.1222526