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Spanish flu

Jonathan B Weitzman

Genome Biology 2001, 2:spotlight-20010910-01  doi:10.1186/gb-spotlight-20010910-01

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:10 September 2001

© 2001 BioMed Central Ltd

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The Spanish influenza virus pandemic of 1918 killed more than 20 million people worldwide. In the September 7 Science, Mark Gibbs and colleagues from the Australian National University in Canberra propose that the pandemic was the result of a recombination between swine-lineage and human-lineage viral strains (Science 2001, 293:1842-1845). They analysed sequences of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene from 30 H1-subtype influenza isolates, using the sister-scanning method and a maximum likelihood method. They suggest that recombination replaced a central region of the human-lineage HA gene with sequences from the swine-lineage virus. Gibbs et al. propose that the recombination event occurred just before outbreak of the pandemic and that HA recombination affected antigenicity and viral virulence. In the same issue of Science, Masato Hatta and colleagues from the University of Wisconsin-Madison describe the molecular basis for virulence of the H5N1 influenza strain that caused the 'flu outbreak in Hong Kong in 1997 (Science 2001, 293:1840-1842). They show that a glutamate-to-lysine substitution at residue 627 of the PB2 polymerase influences viral virulence in mice.


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    PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

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    Australian National University

  4. Sister-scanning: a Monte Carlo procedure for assessing signals in recombinant sequences.

    PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL

  5. Widespread intra-serotype recombination in natural populations of dengue virus.

    PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text | PubMed Central Full Text OpenURL

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  7. Characterization of an avian influenza A (H5N1) virus isolated from a child with a fatal respiratory illness.

    PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL