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Epistatic interactions can moderate the antigenic effect of substitutions in hemagglutinin of influenza H3N2 virus

By Björn F. Koel, David F. Burke, Stefan van der Vliet, Theo M Bestebroer, Guus F. Rimmelzwaan, Albert D.M.E. Osterhaus, Derek J. Smith, Ron A.M. Fouchier

Posted 26 Dec 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/506030

We previously showed that single amino acid substitutions at seven positions in hemagglutinin determined major antigenic change of influenza H3N2 virus. Here, the impact of two such substitutions was tested in eleven representative H3 hemagglutinins to investigate context-dependence effects. The antigenic effect of substitutions introduced at hemagglutinin position 145 was fully independent of the amino acid context of the representative hemagglutinins. Antigenic change caused by substitutions introduced at hemagglutinin position 155 was variable and context-dependent. Our results suggest that epistatic interactions with contextual amino acids in the hemagglutinin can moderate the magnitude of antigenic change.

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