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Sigh of relief: Mutations don’t help H1N1

The H1N1 pandemic hasn’t been the devastating and deadly global event the WHO once feared it might be, but public health officials worry that a more virulent form of the virus could emerge and cause a second, more lethal wave of cases. Mutations in genes that encode the viral ribonucleoprotein polymerase (RNP) complex have been implicated in the adaptation of viruses to new hosts and are key determinants of virulence. The authors of a new paper accepted for the inaugural issue of mBio tested whether two mutations in key residues in a gene in the RNP complex called PB2 would make the H1N1 virus more virulent. But rather than enhancing virulence, the mutations apparently impaired replication and reduced the pathogenicity of the virus. This suggests that we have little to fear from the H1N1 virus acquiring these mutations.

The unrevised version of Jagger et al. is available on the mBio website now. A final, typeset version of the article will appear in the inaugural issue of the online journal in May.
 
 

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