Although influenza A viruses are occasionally transmitted from one animal species to another, their host range tends to be restricted. Currently circulating human influenza A viruses are thought to have originated from avian viruses, yet none of these strains replicate in duck intestine, a major site of avian virus replication. Although the hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase (NA) genes are known to restrict human virus replication in ducks, the contribution of the other viral genes remains unknown. To determine the genetic basis for host range restriction of the replication of human influenza A virus in duck intestine, we first established a reverse genetics system for generating A/Memphis/8/88 (H3N2) (Mem/88) and A/mallard/New York/6750/78 (H2N2) (Mal/NY) viruses from cloned cDNAs. Using this system, we then attempted to generate reassortant viruses with various combinations of candidate genes. We were able to generate single-gene reassortants, which possessed PB2, NP, M, or NS from Mem/88, with the remainder from Mal/NY. Despite unsuccessful production of other single-gene reassortants from Mem/88, we did generate reassortant viruses comprised of both the HA and the NA, all three polymerase genes (PB2, PB1, and PA), or all polymerase genes and the NP gene from Mem/88, with the rest derived from Mal/NY. Among these reassortants, only those possessing the M or NS gene from Mem/88 and the remainder from Mal/NY replicated in duck intestine. These results indicate incompatibility between the genes of avian and human influenza A viruses and indicate that all genes other than the M and NS restrict replication of human influenza A virus in duck intestine. © 2002 Elsevier Science (USA).
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