Takeshi Noda†*, Shin Murakami†, Sumiho Nakatsu, Hirotaka Imai, Yukiko Muramoto, Keiko Shindo, Hiroshi Sagara, Yoshihiro Kawaoka*
†Equally contributed,* Corresponding Authors


The influenza A virus genome is composed of eight single-stranded negative-sense RNAs. Eight distinct viral RNA segments (vRNAs) are selectively packaged into progeny virions, with eight vRNAs in ribonucleoprotein complexes (RNPs) arranged in a specific “1+7” pattern, that is, one central RNP surrounded by seven RNPs. Here we report the genome packaging of an artificially generated seven-segment virus that lacks the hemagglutinin (HA) vRNA. Electron microscopy shows that, even in the presence of only seven vRNAs, the virions efficiently package eight RNPs arranged in the same “1+7” pattern as wild-type virions. Next-generation sequencing reveals that the virions specifically incorporate host-derived 18S and 28S ribosomal RNAs (rRNAs) seemingly as the eighth RNP in place of the HA vRNA. These findings highlight the importance of the assembly of eight RNPs into a specific “1+7” configuration for genome packaging in progeny virions and suggest a potential role for cellular RNAs in viral genome packaging.

Paper Information

: Nature Communications
: 10.1038/s41467-017-02517-w