Sequencing the whole measles virus hemagglutinin (H) gene, in conjunction with a 450-nucleotide region of the nucleoprotein gene (N-450), is helpful for the identification of new genotypes and as an auxiliary in outbreak characterization. In addition, it is essential to be able to predict the antigenic changes of the H protein to gain a better monitoring of the response to the vaccine. In this study, we obtained the full-length H gene sequences from 19 measles virus (MV) strains belonging to two B3 genotype variants circulating in Lombardy (Northern Italy) between July 2015 and February 2016 and evaluated the variability of the whole MV-H gene. Furthermore, we compared the obtained H amino acid sequences to all MV sequences available in the GenBank database (n = 1152 in total) and analyzed the amino acid substitutions in the H protein within clades where the Italian strains were included. We identified a higher variability in the H gene compared to the N-450 region and our results support previous studies, highlighting that the H gene is more informative for characterizing the MV B3 genotype than the N-450 sequence. Some of the amino acid substitutions were fixed in the viral population and, remarkably, some of the amino acid substitutions were typically present only in the Italian sequences. Accumulating further molecular information about MV-H gene will be necessary to enable in-depth analyses of the variability of this gene in the vaccinated population.
- Genetic Variation
- Hemagglutinins, Viral/genetics
- Measles virus/genetics
- Population Surveillance