Characterization of an H4N2 influenza virus from Quails with a multibasic motif in the hemagglutinin cleavage site

Sook San Wong, Sun Woo Yoon, Mark Zanin, Min Suk Song, Christine Oshansky, Hassan Zaraket, Stephanie Sonnberg, Adam Rubrum, Patrick Seiler, Angela Ferguson, Scott Krauss, Carol Cardona, Richard J. Webby, Beate Crossley

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


The cleavage motif in the hemagglutinin (HA) protein of highly pathogenic H5 and H7 subtypes of avian influenza viruses is characterized by a peptide insertion or a multibasic cleavage site (MBCS). Here, we isolated an H4N2 virus from quails (Quail/CA12) with two additional arginines in the HA cleavage site, PEK. RRTR/G, forming an MBCS-like motif. Quail/CA12 is a reassortant virus with the HA and neuraminidase (NA) gene most similar to a duck-isolated H4N2 virus, PD/CA06 with a monobasic HA cleavage site. Quail/CA12 required exogenous trypsin for efficient growth in culture and caused no clinical illness in infected chickens. Quail/CA12 had high binding preference for α2,6-linked sialic acids and showed higher replication and transmission ability in chickens and quails than PD/CA06. Although the H4N2 virus remained low pathogenic, these data suggests that the acquisition of MBCS in the field is not restricted to H5 or H7 subtypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)72-80
Number of pages9
StatePublished - Nov 2014

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank Jennifer DeBeauchamp, Jeri-Carol Crumpton, Ira Tigner Jr., and Demetrios Syndetos for excellent technical assistance. We would also like to thank Peter Vogel from the Veterinary Pathology Core facility and staff of the Animal Resource Center for animal care and husbandry assistance. This work was supported by the American Lebanese Syrian Associated Charities (ALSAC) and the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) Center of Excellence for Influenza Research and Surveillance ( HHSN266200700005C ).


  • H4N2
  • Low pathogenic avian influenza
  • Multibasic cleavage site
  • Outbreak
  • Quail


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