A total of 1,041 human influenza A virus isolates were collected at a clinic in Niigata, Japan, during eight influenza seasons from 2000 to 2007. The H3N2 subtype accounted for 75.4% of the isolates, and the rest were H1N1. Extremely high rates of amantadine-resistant strains of H3N2 subtype were observed in 2005/2006 (100%) and 2006/2007 (79.4%), while amantadine-resistant strains of H1N1 subtype were only detected in 2006/2007 (48.2%). Sequence and phylogenetic analysis of the HA1 subunit of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene revealed a characteristic linear trunk in the case of H3N2 viruses and a multi-furcated tree in the case of H1N1 and showed a higher sequence diversity among H3N2 strains than H1N1 strains. Mutations in the HA1 from both subtypes were mainly found in the globular region, and only one-third of these were retained for two or more successive years. Higher diversity of H3N2 viruses was mainly attributable to a higher fixation rate of non-synonymous mutations and to a lesser extent to a higher nucleotide substitution rate than for H1N1. Our analysis showed evidence of four positively selected sites in the HA1 of H1 and five sites in that of H3, four of which were novel. Finally, acquisition or loss of N-glycosylation sites was shown to contribute to the evolution of influenza A virus, especially in the case of H3N2, which had a higher tendency to acquire new glycosylation sites.
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