What is the role of antigenic drift in the pathogenesis of influenza?

Updated: Apr 23, 2019
  • Author: Hien H Nguyen, MD, MS; Chief Editor: Michael Stuart Bronze, MD  more...
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Answer

Antigenic drift is the process by which inaccurate viral RNA polymerase frequently produces point mutations in certain error-prone regions in the genes. These mutations are ongoing and are responsible for the ability of the virus to evade annually acquired immunity in humans. Drift can also alter the virulence of the strain. Drift occurs within a set subtype (eg, H2N2). For example, AH2N2 Singapore 225/99 may reappear with a slightly altered antigen coat as AH2N2 New Delhi 033/01.


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