Studies on the isolation of the polymerase genes from the H1N1 influenza A virus.
Vaccines directed against the influenza virus become ineffective due to continuous mutation. An alternative approach might be to control replication at the genomic level by enzymatic methylation of the polymerase genes. Hence in this study, a method to locate and successfully isolate the H1N1 influenza A polymerase genes was investigated. The virus was cultured in chick embryos via the allantoic route using aseptic techniques. Following incubation, the allantoic fluid was isolated and washed to remove any contaminating blood cells. The allantoic fluid was checked for fungal and bacterial contamination using the blood agar test and the presence of the virus was established by the haemagglutination titration test. Viral particles were pelleted by ultracentrifugation. Electron microscopy verified the morphology and size of these viruses while immunofluorescence studies, using a monoclonal antibody, confirmed the influenza A strain. The ribose test verified the presence of RNA in the samples. Purified viral pellets were pooled and homogenised in buffer containing guanidine thiocyanate, mercaptoethanol and sarkosyl. The samples were incubated on ice before mechanical disruption of the virus. Viral RNA was isolated from the upper aqueous layer after a standard phenol/chloroform extraction procedure. RNA was quantified spectrophotometrically and purity assessed initially by the absorbance ratio readings at 260/280 nm. Electrophoresis of the RNA samples was performed together with RNA molecular weight markers on a 1.5% formamide agarose gel. Five bands were identified and the band containing the polymerase genes was size selected, located and excised. Purification of the polymerase genes from the agarose was achieved by using the BIO 101 RNAid kit. The three isolated polymerase RNAs were reverse transcribed using the Boehringer Mannheim cDNA synthesis kit. The results indicate that the H1N1 influenza virus was successfully grown and isolated from chick embryos. Absence of contamination and verification of viral presence at different stages of the study were indications that asepsis was successfully achieved. The RNA obtained was sufficient and suitable for cDNA synthesis. This cDNA may now be used for further molecular analysis and subsequent DNA methylation studies. Further, transfection studies may then be performed to determine, if any, the the expression of methylated and unmethylated cDNA.