Genetic Relatedness of the RNA Segments Coding for the Hemagglutinin of Different Influenza Strains

  • Christoph Scholtissek
  • Wolfgang Rohde
  • Etti Harms
  • Rudolf Rott
Part of the Topics in Infectious Diseases book series (TIDIS, volume 3)


Two distinct types of antigenic variations have been described with influenza viruses: (1) the antigenic drift presumably is due to a number of successive point mutations of the hemagglutinin gene, while (2) the antigenic shift is thought to be caused by a recombinational event after double infection of a common host with two antigenically distinct influenza strains (for a review see Webster and Laver, 1975). In the latter case at least the gene coding for the hemagglutinin of the prevailing (human) strain should be replaced by the corresponding gene of the other strain presumably derived from an animal reservoir. The occurrence of such a new recombinant strain will then cause a pandemic, since no immunological protection will be found in man. The production of such recombinants is highly facilitated by the structure of the influenza viral genome, which consists of 8 single stranded RNA segments (Pons, 1976; Palese and Schulman, 1976; Bean and Simpson, 1976; Scholtissek et al., 1976; McGeoch et al., 1976). These segments easily can reassort in doubly infected cells and can give rise to a large number of different new strains.


Influenza Strain Double Infection Antigenic Drift Serological Relationship Antigenic Shift 
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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Wien 1978

Authors and Affiliations

  • Christoph Scholtissek
  • Wolfgang Rohde
  • Etti Harms
  • Rudolf Rott

There are no affiliations available

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