The major structural polypeptides (gp88, NP and M) of seven different influenza C virus strains isolated between 1947 and 1981 in U.S.A. and Japan were compared by SDS-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis and one-dimensional mapping of the peptide fragments produced after limited proteolysis with various proteases. Of the three polypeptides analysed, the membrane (M) protein appeared to be the most highly conserved since the electrophoretic mobility as well as the mapping pattern of this protein was found to be identical among all seven strains. The structure of nucleoprotein (NP) was also found to be highly conserved. The proteins of five isolates from 1964 to 1981 showed migration rates and mapping patterns indistinguishable from each other though they were slightly different in mapping patterns from the earlier isolates, C/Taylor/1233/47 and C/JJ/50. The similarities between influenza C strains were also evident with the surface glycoprotein, gp88. The gp88 proteins of the five strains isolated in 1947, 1950, 1971 and 1981 were virtually identical in migration rates as well as in mapping patterns, while the two isolates of 1964 and 1974 showed minor differences. These results strongly suggest that the surface glycoprotein of influenza C virus is structurally much more stable than the haemagglutinin and neuraminidase glycoproteins of influenza A and B viruses. Further, the findings that differences from the original influenza C strain, Taylor/1233/47 were detectable in the strains isolated in 1964 and 1974 but not in the strains isolated in 1971 and 1981 suggest that unlike the antigenic drift of types A and B influenza viruses, the structural variation of gp88 may not be a sequential event.


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