Suxiang Tong 1 , * , Xueyong Zhu 2 , Yan Li 1 , Mang Shi 3 , Jing Zhang 1 , Melissa Bourgeois 4 , Hua Yang 4 , Xianfeng Chen 1 , Sergio Recuenco 5 , Jorge Gomez 6 , Li-Mei Chen 4 , Adam Johnson 4 , Ying Tao 1 , Cyrille Dreyfus 2 , Wenli Yu 2 , Ryan McBride 7 , Paul J. Carney 4 , Amy T. Gilbert 5 , Jessie Chang 4 , Zhu Guo 4 , Charles T. Davis 4 , James C. Paulson 2 , 7 , James Stevens 4 , * , Charles E. Rupprecht 5 , 8 , * , Edward C. Holmes 3 , 9 , * , Ian A. Wilson 2 , 10 , * , Ruben O. Donis 4 , *
10 October 2013
Aquatic birds harbor diverse influenza A viruses and are a major viral reservoir in nature. The recent discovery of influenza viruses of a new H17N10 subtype in Central American fruit bats suggests that other New World species may similarly carry divergent influenza viruses. Using consensus degenerate RT-PCR, we identified a novel influenza A virus, designated as H18N11, in a flat-faced fruit bat ( Artibeus planirostris) from Peru. Serologic studies with the recombinant H18 protein indicated that several Peruvian bat species were infected by this virus. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that, in some gene segments, New World bats harbor more influenza virus genetic diversity than all other mammalian and avian species combined, indicative of a long-standing host-virus association. Structural and functional analyses of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase indicate that sialic acid is not a ligand for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a unique mode of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. Taken together, these findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important and likely ancient reservoir for a diverse pool of influenza viruses.
Previous studies indicated that a novel influenza A virus (H17N10) was circulating in fruit bats from Guatemala (Central America). Herein, we investigated whether similar viruses are present in bat species from South America. Analysis of rectal swabs from bats sampled in the Amazon rainforest region of Peru identified another new influenza A virus from bats that is phylogenetically distinct from the one identified in Guatemala. The genes that encode the surface proteins of the new virus from the flat-faced fruit bat were designated as new subtype H18N11. Serologic testing of blood samples from several species of Peruvian bats indicated a high prevalence of antibodies to the surface proteins. Phylogenetic analyses demonstrate that bat populations from Central and South America maintain as much influenza virus genetic diversity in some gene segments as all other mammalian and avian species combined. The crystal structures of the hemagglutinin and neuraminidase proteins indicate that sialic acid is not a receptor for virus attachment nor a substrate for release, suggesting a novel mechanism of influenza A virus attachment and activation of membrane fusion for entry into host cells. In summary, our findings indicate that bats constitute a potentially important reservoir for influenza viruses.