Contributions of Influenza Virus Hemagglutinin and Host Immune Responses Toward the Severity of Influenza Virus: Streptococcus pyogenes Superinfections


Joshua M. Klonoski, Trevor Watson, Thomas E. Bickett, Joshua M. Svendsen, Tonia J. Gau, Alexandria Britt, Jeff T. Nelson, Evelyn H. Schlenker, Michael S. Chaussee, Agnieszka Rynda-Apple, Victor C. Huber


Viral Immunology


Influenza virus infections can be complicated by bacterial superinfections, which are medically relevant because of a complex interaction between the host, the virus, and the bacteria. Studies to date have implicated several influenza virus genes, varied host immune responses, and bacterial virulence factors, however, the host-pathogen interactions that predict survival versus lethal outcomes remain undefined. Previous work by our group showed that certain influenza viruses could yield a survival phenotype (A/swine/Texas/4199-2/98-H3N2, TX98), whereas others were associated with a lethal phenotype (A/Puerto Rico/8/34-H1N1, PR8). Based on this observation, we developed the hypothesis that individual influenza virus genes could contribute to a superinfection, and that the host response after influenza virus infection could influence superinfection severity. The present study analyzes individual influenza virus gene contributions to superinfection severity using reassortant viruses created using TX98 and PR8 viral genes. Host and pathogen interactions, relevant to survival and lethal phenotypes, were studied with a focus on pathogen clearance, host cellular infiltrates, and cytokine levels after infection. Specifically, we found that the hemagglutinin gene expressed by an influenza virus can contribute to the severity of a secondary bacterial infection, likely through modulation of host proinflammatory responses. Altogether, these results advance our understanding of molecular mechanisms underlying influenza virus-bacteria superinfections and identify viral and corresponding host factors that may contribute to morbidity and mortality.



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