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Human parainfluenza viruses cause a large burden of human respiratory illness. While much research relies upon viruses grown in cultured immortalized cells, human parainfluenza virus 3 (HPIV-3) evolves in culture. Cultured viruses differ in their properties compared to clinical strains. We present a genome-wide survey of HPIV-3 adaptations to culture using metagenomic next-generation sequencing of matched pairs of clinical samples and primary culture isolates (zero passage virus). Nonsynonymous changes arose during primary viral isolation, almost entirely in the genes encoding the two surface glycoproteins—the receptor binding protein hemagglutinin-neuraminidase (HN) or the fusion protein (F). We recovered genomes from 95 HPIV-3 primary culture isolates and 23 HPIV-3 strains directly from clinical samples. HN mutations arising during primary viral isolation resulted in substitutions at HN’s dimerization/F-interaction site, a site critical for activation of viral fusion. Alterations in HN dimer interface residues known to favor infection in culture occurred within 4 days (H552 and N556). A novel cluster of residues at a different face of the HN dimer interface emerged (P241 and R242) and imply a role in HPIV-3-mediated fusion. Functional characterization of these culture-associated HN mutations in a clinical isolate background revealed acquisition of the fusogenic phenotype associated with cultured HPIV-3; the HN-F complex showed enhanced fusion and decreased receptor-cleaving activity. These results utilize a method for identifying genome-wide changes associated with brief adaptation to culture to highlight the notion that even brief exposure to immortalized cells may affect key viral properties and underscore the balance of features of the HN-F complex required for fitness by circulating viruses.


This article was originally published in mBio, available at .00898-18.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International license.

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