Open Access Highly Accessed Open Badges Research article

Characterization of conserved properties of hemagglutinin of H5N1 and human influenza viruses: possible consequences for therapy and infection control

Veljko Veljkovic1*, Nevena Veljkovic1, Claude P Muller2, Sybille Müller3, Sanja Glisic1, Vladimir Perovic1 and Heinz Köhler4

Author Affiliations

1 Center for Multidisciplinary Research, Institute of Nuclear Sciences VINCA, P.O. Box 522, 11001 Belgrade, Serbia

2 Institute of Immunology and WHO Collaborative Center for Measles and WHO European Regional Reference Laboratory for Measles and Rubella, Laboratoire National de Santé Luxembourg, 20A rue Auguste Lumière, L-1950 Luxembourg, Grand-Duchy of Luxembourg

3 Immpheron Inc., 5235 Athens-Boonesboro Rd., Lexington, Kentucky 40509, USA

4 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, University of Kentucky, Markey Cancer Center, Combs 203, 800 Rose Street, Lexington, Kentucky 40536, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

BMC Structural Biology 2009, 9:21  doi:10.1186/1472-6807-9-21

Published: 7 April 2009



Epidemics caused by highly pathogenic avian influenza virus (HPAIV) are a continuing threat to human health and to the world's economy. The development of approaches, which help to understand the significance of structural changes resulting from the alarming mutational propensity for human-to-human transmission of HPAIV, is of particularly interest. Here we compare informational and structural properties of the hemagglutinin (HA) of H5N1 virus and human influenza virus subtypes, which are important for the receptor/virus interaction.


Presented results revealed that HA proteins encode highly conserved information that differ between influenza virus subtypes H5N1, H1N1, H3N2, H7N7 and defined an HA domain which may modulate interaction with receptor. We also found that about one third of H5N1 viruses which are isolated during the 2006/07 influenza outbreak in Egypt possibly evolve towards receptor usage similar to that of seasonal H1N1.


The presented results may help to better understand the interaction of influenza virus with its receptor(s) and to identify new therapeutic targets for drug development.