BioRxiv : https://www.biorxiv.org/content/early/2018/03/02/274613
Adaptation of viruses to their host can result in specialization and a restricted host range. Species-specific polymorphisms in the influenza virus polymerase restrict its host range during transmission from birds to mammals. ANP32A was recently been identified as a cellular co-factor impacting polymerase adaption and activity. Avian influenza polymerases require ANP32A containing an insertion resulting from an exon duplication uniquely encoded in birds. Here we find that natural splice variants surrounding this exon create avian ANP32A proteins with distinct effects on polymerase activity. We demonstrate species-independent direct interactions between all ANP32A variants and the PB2 polymerase subunit. This interaction is enhanced in the presence of viral genomic RNA. In contrast, only avian ANP32A restored ribonucleoprotein complex assembly for a restricted polymerase by enhancing RNA synthesis. Our data suggest that ANP32A splicing variation amongst birds differentially impacts viral replication, polymerase adaption, and the potential of avian hosts to be reservoirs.