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Canadian Journal of Infectious Diseases
Volume 8, Issue 5, Pages 265-269
Original Article

Genetic Characterization of the Hemagglutinin Gene of Influenza B Virus which Predominated in the 1985/86 Canadian Influenza Season

Shimian Zou, Isabelle Prud’homme, and John M Weber

Surveillance, Influenza and Viral Exanthemata, Laboratory Centre for Disease Control, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada

Received 24 October 1996; Accepted 6 January 1997

Copyright © 1997 Hindawi Publishing Corporation. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


OBJECTIVE: To characterize the hemagglutinin (HA) gene of B/Canada/3/85, a prototype strain of influenza B virus variants that emerged in the 1984/85 influenza season and predominated in the 1985/86 season in Canada.

DESIGN: Sequencing and comparison of the HA genes of B/Canada/3/85 and the vaccine strains for the 1985/86 season, B/USSR/100/83, and for the 1986/87 season, B/Ann Arbor/1/86.

RESULTS: B/Canada/3/85 was similar to B/Ann Arbor/1/86 and significantly different from B/USSR/100/83. Phylogenetic analysis of the HA1-coding sequences indicated that B/Canada/3/85 and several other 1985 strains isolated in distant parts of the world were very closely related and were early variants representing the emergence of a new lineage, the B/Victoria/2/87 lineage. B/Canada/3/85 differed from B/USSR/100/83 in nucleotide sequence by 3.44% and in amino acid sequence by 3.33%. There was also an insertion of two amino acids in the HA1 region of B/Canada/3/85.

CONCLUSIONS: B/Canada/3/85 was one of the herald strains for the 1985/1986 influenza B epidemic. The amino acid mutations and the two-codon insertion together may account for the observed antigenic changes in the HA of the influenza B variants.