ABSTRACT The NP, PA, PB1, and PB2 proteins of influenza viruses together are responsible for the transcription and replication of viral RNA, and the latter three proteins comprise the viral polymerase. Two recent reports indicated that the mutation at site 627 of PB2 plays a key role in host range and increased virulence of influenza viruses, and could be compensated by multiple mutations at other sites of PB2, suggesting the association of this mutation with those at other sites. The objective of this study was to analyze the co-mutated sites within and between these important proteins of influenza. With mutual information, a set of statistically significant co- mutated position pairs (P value = 0) in NP, PA, PB1, and PB2 of avian, human, pandemic 2009 H1N1, and swine influenza were identified, based on which several highly connected networks of correlated sites in NP, PA, PB1, and PB2 were discovered. These correlation networks further illustrated the inner functional dependence of the four proteins that are critical for host adaptation and pathogenicity. Mutual information was also applied to quantify the correlation of sites within each individual protein and between proteins. In general, the inter protein correlation of the four proteins was stronger than the intra protein correlation. Finally, the correlation patterns of the four proteins of pandemic 2009 H1N1 were found to be closer to those of avian and human than to swine influenza, thus rendering a novel insight into the interaction of the four proteins of the pandemic 2009 H1N1 virus when compared to avian, human, and swine influenza and how the origin of these four proteins might affect the correlation patterns uncovered in this analysis.
Cite this paper
Hu, W. (2010) Correlated mutations in the four influenza proteins essential for viral RNA synthesis, host adaptation, and virulence: NP, PA, PB1, and PB2. Natural Science, 2, 1138-1147. doi: 10.4236/ns.2010.210141.
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