Although the ferret model has been extensively used to study pathogenesis and transmission of influenza viruses, little has been done to determine whether ferrets are a good surrogate animal model to study influenza virus reassortment. It has been previously shown that the pandemic 2009 H1N1 (H1N1pdm) virus was able to transmit efficiently in ferrets. In coinfection studies with either seasonal H1N1 or H3N2 strains (H1N1s or H3N2s, respectively), the H1N1pdm virus was able to outcompete these strains and become the dominant transmissible virus. However, lack of reassortment could have been the result of differences in the cell or tissue tropism of these viruses in the ferret. To address this issue, we performed coinfection studies with recombinant influenza viruses carrying the surface genes of a seasonal H3N2 strain in the background of an H1N1pdm strain and vice versa. After serial passages in ferrets, a dominant H1N2 virus population was obtained with a constellation of gene segments, most of which, except for the neuraminidase (NA) and PB1 segments, were from the H1N1pdm strain. Our studies suggest that ferrets recapitulate influenza virus reassortment events. The H1N2 virus generated through this process resembles similar viruses that are emerging in nature, particularly in pigs.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Insect Science