Influenza remains a significant cause of disease mortality. The ongoing threat of influenza infection is partly attributable to the emergence of new mutations in the influenza genome. Among the influenza viral gene products, the hemagglutinin (HA) glycoprotein plays a critical role in influenza pathogenesis, is the target for vaccines and accumulates new mutations that may alter the efficacy of immunization. To study the emergence of HA mutations during the course of infection, we employed a deep-targeted sequencing method. We used samples from 17 patients with active H1N1 or H3N2 influenza infections. These patients were not treated with antivirals. In addition, we had samples from five patients who were analyzed longitudinally. Thus, we determined the quantitative changes in the fractional representation of HA mutations during the course of infection. Across individuals in the study, a series of novel HA mutations directly altered the HA coding sequence were identified. Serial viral sampling revealed HA mutations that either were stable, expanded or were reduced in representation during the course of the infection. Overall, we demonstrated the emergence of unique mutations specific to an infected individual and temporal genetic variation during infection.
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