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Antigenic and Sequence Variability of the Human Respiratory Syncytial Virus F Glycoprotein Compared to Related Viruses in a Comprehensive Dataset

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Original languageEnglish
Early online date3 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - 29 Oct 2019


A comprehensive analysis of sequence variation was carried out comparing the fusion (F) protein of human respiratory syncytial viruses (hRSV) from antigenic groups A and B with the prototype sequence of the A2 strain, also belonging to antigenic group A. The limited number of full bovine RSV F sequences available were included, as well as an extensive set of F sequences from the related human metapneumovirus (hMPV). The results were analysed in the context of the recently determined three dimensional F protein structures, with antigenic sites mapped to these. Although a high degree of sequence conservation in hRSV F exists, and sequence changes did not correlate with location of antigenic sites, preferential accumulation of amino acid changes in certain antigenic sites was noted. When the analysis was extended to hMPV F, a high number of changes was noticed, in agreement with the limited degree of sequence conservation. However, some conserved regions were noted, which may account for the limited number of cross-reactive monoclonal antibodies described between hRSV F and hMPV F. These results provide information about the degree of sequence and antigenic variation currently found in the F protein of circulating viruses. They highlight the importance of establishing a baseline dataset to monitor for future changes that might evolve should preventative immunological measures be made widely available.

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