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Historical origins and zoonotic potential of avian influenza virus H9N2 in Tunisia revealed by Bayesian analysis and molecular characterization

Abstract : During 2009-2012, several outbreaks of avian influenza virus H9N2 were reported in Tunisian poultry. The circulating strains carried in their hemagglutinins the human-like marker 226L, which is known to be important for avian-to-human viral transmission. To investigate the origins and zoonotic potential of the Tunisian H9N2 viruses, five new isolates were identified during 2012-2016 and their whole genomes were sequenced. Bayesian-based phylogeny showed that the HA, NA, M and NP segments belong to the G1-like lineage. The PB1, PB2, PA and NS segments appeared to have undergone multiple intersubtype reassortments and to be only distantly related to all of the Eurasian lineages (G1-like, Y280-like and Korean-like). The spatiotemporal dynamic of virus spread revealed that the H9N2 virus was transferred to Tunisia from the UAE through Asian and European pathways. As indicated by Bayesian analysis of host traits, ducks and terrestrial birds played an important role in virus transmission to Tunisia. The subtype phylodynamics showed that the history of the PB1 and PB2 segments was marked by intersubtype reassortments with H4N6, H10N4 and H2N2 subtypes. Most of these transitions between locations, hosts and subtypes were statistically supported (BF > 3) and not influenced by sampling bias. Evidence of genetic evolution was observed in the predicted amino acid sequences of the viral proteins of recent Tunisian H9N2 viruses, which were characterized by the acquisition of new mutations involved in virus adaptation to avian and mammalian hosts and amantadine resistance. This study is the first comprehensive analysis of the evolutionary history of Tunisian H9N2 viruses and highlights the zoonotic risk associated with their circulation in poultry, indicating the need for continuous surveillance of their molecular evolution.
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Submitted on : Tuesday, February 8, 2022 - 11:29:05 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, February 9, 2022 - 5:18:36 PM

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Marwa Arbi, Oussema Souiai, Natalia Rego, Imen Larbi, Hugo Naya, et al.. Historical origins and zoonotic potential of avian influenza virus H9N2 in Tunisia revealed by Bayesian analysis and molecular characterization. Archives of Virology, Springer Verlag, 2020, 165 (7), pp.1527 - 1540. ⟨10.1007/s00705-020-04624-4⟩. ⟨pasteur-03561465⟩

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