Species-specific emergence of H7 highly pathogenic avian influenza virus is driven by intrahost selection differences between chickens and ducks

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Abstract

Highly pathogenic avian influenza viruses (HPAIVs) cause severe hemorrhagic disease in terrestrial poultry and are a threat to the poultry industry, wild life, and human health. HPAIVs arise from low pathogenic avian influenza viruses (LPAIVs), which circulate in wild aquatic birds. HPAIV emergence is thought to occur in poultry and not wild aquatic birds, but the reason for this species-restriction is not known. We hypothesized that, due to species-specific tropism and replication, intrahost HPAIV selection is favored in poultry and disfavored in wild aquatic birds. We tested this hypothesis by co-inoculating chickens, representative of poultry, and ducks, representative of wild aquatic birds, with a mixture of H7N7 HPAIV and LPAIV, mimicking HPAIV emergence in an experimental setting. Virus selection was monitored in swabs and tissues by RT-qPCR and immunostaining of differential N-terminal epitope tags that were added to the hemagglutinin protein. HPAIV was selected in four of six co-inoculated chickens, whereas LPAIV remained the major population in co-inoculated ducks on the long-term, despite detection of infectious HPAIV in tissues at early time points. Collectively, our data support the hypothesis that HPAIVs are more likely to be selected at the intrahost level in poultry than in wild aquatic birds and point towards species-specific differences in HPAIV and LPAIV tropism and replication levels as possible explanations.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1011942
Pages (from-to)e1011942
JournalPLoS Pathogens
Volume20
Issue number2 February
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2024

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Copyright: © 2024 de Bruin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

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