Hemagglutinin is the major surface glycoprotein of influenza viruses. It participates in the initial steps of viral infection through receptor binding and membrane fusion events. The influenza pandemic of 2009 provided a unique scenario to study virus evolution. We performed molecular dynamics simulations with four hemagglutinin variants that appeared throughout the 2009 influenza A (H1N1) pandemic. We found that variant 1 (S143G, S185T) likely arose to avoid immune recognition. Variant 2 (A134T), and variant 3 (D222E, P297S) had an increased binding affinity for the receptor. Finally, variant 4 (E374K) altered hemagglutinin stability in the vicinity of the fusion peptide. Variants 1 and 4 have become increasingly predominant, while variants 2 and 3 declined as the pandemic progressed. Our results show some of the different strategies that the influenza virus uses to adapt to the human host and provide an example of how selective pressure drives antigenic drift in viral proteins.
Jiménez-Alberto, A., Alvarado-Facundo, E., Ribas-Aparicio, R. M., & Castelán-Vega, J. A. (2013). Analysis of Adaptation Mutants in the Hemagglutinin of the Influenza A(H1N1)pdm09 Virus. PLoS ONE, 8(7). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0070005