Analysis of influenza virus hemagglutinin receptor binding mutants with limited receptor recognition properties and conditional replication characteristics

Konrad C. Bradley, Summer E. Galloway, Yi Lasanajak, Xuezheng Song, Jamie Heimburg-Molinaro, Hai Yu, Xi Chen, Ganesh R. Talekar, David F. Smith, Richard D. Cummings, David A. Steinhauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

47 Scopus citations


To examine the range of selective processes that potentially operate when poorly binding influenza viruses adapt to replicate more efficiently in alternative environments, we passaged a virus containing an attenuating mutation in the hemagglutinin (HA) receptor binding site in mice and characterized the resulting mutants with respect to the structural locations of mutations selected, the replication phenotypes of the viruses, and their binding properties on glycan microarrays. The initial attenuated virus had a tyrosine-to-phenylalanine mutation at HA1 position 98 (Y98F), located in the receptor binding pocket, but viruses that were selected contained second-site pseudoreversion mutations in various structural locations that revealed a range of molecular mechanisms for modulating receptor binding that go beyond the scope that is generally mapped using receptor specificity mutants. A comparison of virus titers in the mouse respiratory tract versus MDCK cells in culture showed that the mutants displayed distinctive replication properties depending on the system, but all were less attenuated in mice than the Y98F virus. An analysis of receptor binding properties confirmed that the initial Y98F virus bound poorly to several different species of erythrocytes, while all mutants reacquired various degrees of hemagglutination activity. Interestingly, both the Y98F virus and pseudoreversion mutants were shown to bind very inefficiently to standard glycan microarrays containing an abundance of binding substrates for most influenza viruses that have been characterized to date, provided by the Consortium for Functional Glycomics. The viruses were also examined on a recently developed microarray containing glycans terminating in sialic acid derivatives, and limited binding to a potentially interesting subset of glycans was revealed. The results are discussed with respect to mechanisms for HA-mediated receptor binding, as well as regarding the species of molecules that may act as receptors for influenza virus on host cell surfaces.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)12387-12398
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number23
StatePublished - Dec 2011

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology
  • Virology


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