Influenza A virus polymerase is a site for adaptive changes during experimental evolution in bat cells

Poole DS, Yú S, Caì Y, Dinis JM, Müller MA, Jordan I, Friedrich TC, Kuhn JH, Mehle A (2014). J. Virol. 88(21):12572-85.
PubMed Record

The recent identification of highly divergent influenza A viruses in bats revealed a new, geographically dispersed viral reservoir. To investigate the molecular mechanisms of host-restricted viral tropism and the potential for transmission of viruses between humans and bats, we exposed a panel of cell lines from bats of diverse species to a prototypical human-origin influenza A virus. All of the tested bat cell lines were susceptible to influenza A virus infection. Experimental evolution of human and avian-like viruses in bat cells resulted in efficient replication and created highly cytopathic variants. Deep sequencing of adapted human influenza A virus revealed a mutation in the PA polymerase subunit not previously described, M285K. Recombinant virus with the PA M285K mutation completely phenocopied the adapted virus. Adaptation of an avian virus-like virus resulted in the ca- nonical PB2 E627K mutation that is required for efficient replication in other mammals. None of the adaptive mutations oc- curred in the gene for viral hemagglutinin, a gene that frequently acquires changes to recognize host-specific variations in sialic acid receptors. We showed that human influenza A virus uses canonical sialic acid receptors to infect bat cells, even though bat influenza A viruses do not appear to use these receptors for virus entry. Our results demonstrate that bats are unique hosts that select for both a novel mutation and a well-known adaptive mutation in the viral polymerase to support replication.

Flat-faced bat from peru

Help. I’ve been infected by influenza virus!