A novel avian-origin influenza A (H7N9) virus emerged in China in 2013 and has caused zoonotic disease in over 1123 persons with an overall mortality around 30%. Amino acid changes at the residues 591, 627 and 701 of polymerase basic protein 2 (PB2) have been found frequently in the human H7N9 isolates but not in viruses isolated from avian species. We have recently identified a cluster of H7N9 viruses in ducks which circulated in China prior to the first recognition of zoonotic disease in 2013. These duck viruses have genetic background distinct from the zoonotic H7N9 lineage. We found that the introduction of PB2 mutation with K at 627 but not K at 591 or N at 701 to the duck H7N9 virus led to increased pathogenicity in mice. We also found that the induction of pro-inflammatory cytokines including TNF-α, IP-10, MCP-1 and MIP-1α were associated with increased severity of infection. We conclude that introduction of the mammalian adaptation mutations into the PB2 gene of duck H7N9 viruses, which are genetically unrelated to the zoonotic H7N9 lineage, can also enhance pathogenicity in mice.