At present there is much interest in the cell tropism and host range of influenza viruses, especially those of the H5N1 subtype. We wished to develop a method that would enable investigation of attachment of infectious virus through the interaction of the hemagglutinin molecule and live mammalian and avian cells and the subsequent infection of these cells. To this end, influenza viruses of various HA subtypes were constructed that either carry the green fluorescent protein (GFP) instead of the neuraminidase protein, or that express GFP in the cytoplasm of infected cells. The HA genes were derived from influenza viruses A/PR/8/34 (H1N1), A/Netherlands/178/95 (H3N2) and A/Vietnam/1194/04 (H5N1). Using these pairs of viruses, attachment and post-attachment events in the virus replication cycle can be distinguished. In general, the expression of NeuAc(α2-3)Gal or NeuAc(α2-6)Gal receptors on the cells tested corresponded with the attachment of the viruses that were studied with respect to predicted receptor specificity. Virus attachment was not always predictive for efficient infection of the cells.
- Green fluorescent protein
- Influenza virus