Submitted to: Science
Publication Type: Peer Reviewed Journal
Publication Acceptance Date: 9/20/2005
Publication Date: 10/7/2005
Citation: Tumpey, T., Basler, C., Taubenberger, J., Swayne, D.E., Zeng, H., Cox, N., Katz, J., Palese, P., Garcia-Sastre, A. 2005. Characterization of the reconstructed 1918 Spanish Influenza Pandemic virus. Science. 310:77-80.
Interpretive Summary: The pandemic influenza virus of 1918-1919 swept the globe and killed an estimated 20-40 million people. Through reverse genetics the 1918 pandemic influenza virus was recreated under high biocontainment and studied to determine how such a virus could be deadly. The 1918 influenza virus was different from current human influenza H1N1 viruses because the 1918 pandemic virus was able to grow in tissue culture without needing the trypsin enzyme, cause death in a mouse model system and embryonated chicken eggs, and display a high-growth in cells lining human airways. This made it the most deadly influenza virus in recorded history.
Technical Abstract: The pandemic influenza virus of 1918-1919 swept the globe and killed an estimated 20-40 million people. With the recent availability of the complete nucleotide sequence of the 1918 influenza virus, we generated by reverse genetics an influenza virus bearing all 8 genes of the pandemic virus to study properties associated with its extraordinary virulence. In stark contrast to contemporary human influenza H1N1 viruses, the 1918 pandemic virus was able to replicate in the absence of trypsin, cause lethality in mice and embryonated chicken eggs, and display a high-growth phenotype in human bronchial epithelial cells. Moreover, the coordinated synthesis of all the 1918 virus genes most certainly made this agent the most deadly influenza virus in recorded history.