A switch of viral hemagglutinin receptor binding specificity from bird-type α2,3- to human-type α2,6-linked sialic acid is necessary for an avian influenza virus to become a pandemic virus. In this study, an easy-to-use strip test to detect receptor binding specificity of influenza virus was developed. A biotinylated anti-hemagglutinin antibody that bound a broad range of group 1 influenza A viruses and latex-conjugated α2,3 (blue) and α2,6 (red) sialylglycopolymers were used in an immunochromatographic strip test, with avidin and lectin immobilized on a nitrocellulose membrane at test and control lines, respectively. Accumulation of a sialylglycopolymer-virus-antibody complex at the test line was visualized by eye. The strip test could be completed in 30. min and did not require special equipment or skills, thereby avoiding some disadvantages of current methods for analyzing receptor binding specificity of influenza virus. The strip test could detect the receptor binding specificity of a wide range of influenza viruses, as well as small increases in the binding affinity of variant H5N1 viruses to α2,6 sialylglycans at viral titers >128 hemagglutination units. The strip test results were in agreement with those of ELISA virus binding assays, with correlations >0.95. In conclusion, the immunochromatographic strip test developed in this study should be useful for monitoring potential changes in the receptor binding specificity of group 1 influenza A viruses in the field.
- Detection of receptor binding specificity
- Group 1 influenza A virus
- H5N1 avian influenza virus
- Immunochromatographic strip test
- Pandemic potential