Notable Recent Publications

These are some recent publications which give a flavour of the research from the Barclay lab. For a complete list of publications, please see below.


Species difference in ANP32A underlies influenza A virus polymerase host restriction. Nature (2016).
Jason S. Long, Efstathios S. Giotis, Olivier Moncorgé, Rebecca Frise, Bhakti Mistry, Joe James, Mireille Morisson, Munir Iqbal, Alain Vignal, Michael A. Skinner & Wendy S. Barclay

This paper identified a key factor that explained why the polymerases from avian influenza viruses are restricted in humans.  For more, please see the associated New and Views.

See our latest ANP32 papers here: eLIFE, Journal of Virology.


The mechanism of resistance to favipiravir in influenza. PNAS (2018).
Daniel H. GoldhillAartjan J. W. te VelthuisRobert A. FletcherPinky LangatMaria ZambonAngie Lackenby & Wendy S. Barclay

This paper showed how influenza could evolve resistance to favipiravir, an antiviral that may be used to treat influenza. The residue that mutated to give resistance was highly conserved suggesting that the mechanism of resistance may be applicable to other RNA viruses.


Internal genes of a highly pathogenic H5N1 influenza virus determine high viral replication in myeloid cells and severe outcome of infection in mice. Plos Path. (2018).
Hui Li*, Konrad C. Bradley*, Jason S. Long, Rebecca Frise, Jonathan W. Ashcroft, Lorian C. Hartgroves, Holly Shelton, Spyridon Makris, Cecilia Johansson, Bin Cao & Wendy S. Barclay

Why do avian influenza viruses like H5N1 cause such severe disease in humans? This paper demonstrated that H5N1 viruses replicate better than human viruses in myeloid cells from mice leading to a cytokine storm and more severe disease.


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  • Journal article
    Te Velthuis AJW, Long JS, Barclay WS, 2018,

    Assays to Measure the Activity of Influenza Virus Polymerase.

    , Methods Mol Biol, Vol: 1836, Pages: 343-374

    Influenza viruses use an RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) to transcribe and replicate their segmented negative-stranded RNA genomes. The influenza A virus RdRp consists of a heterotrimeric complex of the proteins PB1, PB2, and PA. The RdRp is associated with the incoming influenza A viral RNA (vRNA) genome bound by the viral nucleoprotein (NP), in complexes called viral ribonucleoproteins, vRNPs. During the viral replication cycle, the RdRp snatches capped primers from nascent host mRNAs to carry out primary viral transcription. Viral mRNA translation produces new copies of the RdRp subunits and NP, which are required to stabilize and encapsidate complementary copies of the genome (cRNAs), forming cRNPs. These cRNPs then use the cRNAs to make new vRNAs, which are encapsidated into new vRNPs. Secondary transcription by new vRNPs results in further viral mRNAs and an increase of the viral protein load in the cell. The activities of the RdRp (mRNA, cRNA, and vRNA synthesis) in the influenza virus replication cycle can be measured on several levels, ranging from assessment of the accumulation of RNA products in virus-infected cells, through in situ reconstitution of the RdRp from cloned cDNAs, to in vitro biochemical assays that allow the dissection of individual functions of the RdRp enzyme. Here we describe these assays and point out the advantages and drawbacks of each.

  • Journal article
    Singanayagam A, Zambon M, Lalvani A, Barclay Wet al., 2017,

    Urgent challenges in implementing live attenuated influenza vaccine.

    , Lancet Infectious Diseases, Vol: 18, Pages: e25-e32, ISSN: 1473-3099

    Conflicting reports have emerged about the effectiveness of the live attenuated influenza vaccine. The live attenuated influenza vaccine appears to protect particularly poorly against currently circulating H1N1 viruses that are derived from the 2009 pandemic H1N1 viruses. During the 2015-16 influenza season, when pandemic H1N1 was the predominant virus, studies from the USA reported a complete lack of effectiveness of the live vaccine in children. This finding led to a crucial decision in the USA to recommend that the live vaccine not be used in 2016-17 and to switch to the inactivated influenza vaccine. Other countries, including the UK, Canada, and Finland, however, have continued to recommend the use of the live vaccine. This policy divergence and uncertainty has far reaching implications for the entire global community, given the importance of the production capabilities of the live attenuated influenza vaccine for pandemic preparedness. In this Personal View, we discuss possible explanations for the observed reduced effectiveness of the live attenuated influenza vaccine and highlight the underpinning scientific questions. Further research to understand the reasons for these observations is essential to enable informed public health policy and commercial decisions about vaccine production and development in coming years.

  • Journal article
    James J, Howard W, Iqbal M, Nair VK, Barclay WS, Shelton Het al., 2016,

    Influenza A virus PB1-F2 protein prolongs viral shedding in chickens lengthening the transmission window

    , Journal of General Virology, Vol: 97, Pages: 2516-2527, ISSN: 1465-2099

    Avian influenza is a significant economic burden on the poultry industry in geographical regions where it is enzootic. It also poses a public health concern when avian influenza subtypes infect humans, often with high mortality. Understanding viral genetic factors which positively contribute to influenza A virus (IAV) fitness – infectivity, spread and pathogenesis – is of great importance both for human and livestock health. PB1-F2 is a small accessory protein encoded by IAV and in mammalian hosts has been implicated in a wide range of functions that contribute to increased pathogenesis. In the avian host, the protein has been understudied despite high-level full-length conservation in avian IAV isolates, which is in contrast to the truncations of the PB1-F2 length frequently found in mammalian host isolates. Here we report that the presence of a full-length PB1-F2 protein, from a low pathogenicity H9N2 avian influenza virus, prolongs infectious virus shedding from directly inoculated chickens, thereby enhancing transmission of the virus by lengthening the transmission window to contact birds. As well as extending transmission, the presence of a full-length PB1-F2 suppresses pathogenicity evidenced by an increased minimum lethal dose in embryonated chicken eggs and increasing survival in directly infected birds when compared to a virus lacking an ORF for PB1-F2. We propose that there is a positive pressure to maintain a full-length functional PB1-F2 protein upon infection of avian hosts as it contributes to the effective transmission of IAV in the field.

  • Journal article
    Pizzuto MS, Silic-Benussi M, Ciminale V, Elderfield RA, Capua I, Barclay WSet al., 2016,

    An engineered avian-origin influenza A virus for pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma virotherapy

    , JOURNAL OF GENERAL VIROLOGY, Vol: 97, Pages: 2166-2179, ISSN: 0022-1317
  • Journal article
    Frise R, Bradley K, van Doremalen N, Galiano M, Elderfield R, Stilwell P, Ashcroft J, Fernandez-Alonso M, Miah S, Lackenby A, Roberts K, Donnelly C, Barclay Wet al., 2016,

    Contact transmission of influenza virus between ferrets imposes a looser bottleneck than respiratory droplet transmission allowing propagation of antiviral resistance

    , Scientific Reports, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2045-2322

    Influenza viruses cause annual seasonal epidemics and occasional pandemics. It is important to elucidate the stringency of bottlenecks during transmission to shed light on mechanisms that underlie the evolution and propagation of antigenic drift, host range switching or drug resistance. The virus spreads between people by different routes, including through the air in droplets and aerosols, and by direct contact. By housing ferrets under different conditions, it is possible to mimic various routes of transmission. Here, we inoculated donor animals with a mixture of two viruses whose genomes differed by one or two reverse engineered synonymous mutations, and measured the transmission of the mixture to exposed sentinel animals. Transmission through the air imposed a tight bottleneck since most recipient animals became infected by only one virus. In contrast, a direct contact transmission chain propagated a mixture of viruses suggesting the dose transferred by this route was higher. From animals with a mixed infection of viruses that were resistant and sensitive to the antiviral drug oseltamivir, resistance was propagated through contact transmission but not by air. These data imply that transmission events with a looser bottleneck can propagate minority variants and may be an important route for influenza evolution.

  • Journal article
    Kobayashi Y, Dadonaite B, van Doremalen N, Suzuki Y, Barclay WS, Pybus OGet al., 2016,

    Computational and molecular analysis of conserved influenza A virus RNA secondary structures involved in infectious virion production

    , RNA Biology, ISSN: 1547-6286

    As well as encoding viral proteins, genomes of RNA viruses harbor secondary and tertiary RNA structures that have been associated with functions essential for successful replication and propagation. Here, we identified stem-loop structures that are extremely conserved among 1,884 M segment sequences of influenza A virus (IAV) strains from various subtypes and host species using computational and evolutionary methods. These structures were predicted within the 3' and 5' ends of the coding regions of M1 and M2, respectively, where packaging signals have been previously proposed to exist. These signals are thought to be required for the incorporation of a single copy of eight different negative-strand RNA segments (vRNAs) into an IAV particle. To directly test the functionality of conserved stem-loop structures, we undertook reverse genetic experiments to introduce synonymous mutations designed to disrupt secondary structures predicted at three locations and found them to attenuate infectivity of recombinant virus. In one mutant, predicted to disrupt stem loop structure at nucleotide positions 219-240, attenuation was more evident at increased temperature and was accompanied by an increase in the production of defective virus particles. Our results suggest that the conserved secondary structures predicted in the M segment are involved in the production of infectious viral particles during IAV replication.

  • Conference paper
    Almond MH, Bakhsoliani E, Edwards MR, Barclay WS, Johnston SLet al., 2015,

    Obesity Is Associated With Decreased Expression Of Suppressor Of Cytokine Signalling 3 In Human Alveolar Macrophages

    , International Conference of the American-Thoracic-Society (ATS), Publisher: AMER THORACIC SOC, ISSN: 1073-449X
  • Journal article
    Long JS, Benfield CT, Barclay WS, 2014,

    One-way trip: Influenza virus' adaptation to gallinaceous poultry may limit its pandemic potential

    , Bioessays, Vol: 37, Pages: 204-212, ISSN: 1521-1878

    We hypothesise that some influenza virus adaptations to poultry may explain why the barrier for human-to-human transmission is not easily overcome once the virus has crossed from wild birds to chickens. Since the cluster of human infections with H5N1 influenza in Hong Kong in 1997, chickens have been recognized as the major source of avian influenza virus infection in humans. Although often severe, these infections have been limited in their subsequent human-to-human transmission, and the feared H5N1 pandemic has not yet occurred. Here we examine virus adaptations selected for during replication in chickens and other gallinaceous poultry. These include altered receptor binding and increased pH of fusion of the haemagglutinin as well as stalk deletions of the neuraminidase protein. This knowledge could aid the delivery of vaccines and increase our ability to prioritize research efforts on those viruses from the diverse array of avian influenza viruses that have greatest human pandemic potential.

  • Journal article
    Elderfield RA, Watson SJ, Godlee A, Adamson WE, Thompson CI, Dunning J, Fernandez-Alonso M, Blumenkrantz D, Hussell T, MOSAIC Investigators, Zambon M, Openshaw P, Kellam P, Barclay WSet al., 2014,

    Accumulation of human-adapting mutations during circulation of A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza virus in humans in the United Kingdom.

    , Journal of virology, Vol: 88, Pages: 13269-13283, ISSN: 0022-538X

    UNLABELLED:The influenza pandemic that emerged in 2009 provided an unprecedented opportunity to study adaptation of a virus recently acquired from an animal source during human transmission. In the United Kingdom, the novel virus spread in three temporally distinct waves between 2009 and 2011. Phylogenetic analysis of complete viral genomes showed that mutations accumulated over time. Second- and third-wave viruses replicated more rapidly in human airway epithelial (HAE) cells than did the first-wave virus. In infected mice, weight loss varied between viral isolates from the same wave but showed no distinct pattern with wave and did not correlate with viral load in the mouse lungs or severity of disease in the human donor. However, second- and third-wave viruses induced less alpha interferon in the infected mouse lungs. NS1 protein, an interferon antagonist, had accumulated several mutations in second- and third-wave viruses. Recombinant viruses with the third-wave NS gene induced less interferon in human cells, but this alone did not account for increased virus fitness in HAE cells. Mutations in HA and NA genes in third-wave viruses caused increased binding to α-2,6-sialic acid and enhanced infectivity in human mucus. A recombinant virus with these two segments replicated more efficiently in HAE cells. A mutation in PA (N321K) enhanced polymerase activity of third-wave viruses and also provided a replicative advantage in HAE cells. Therefore, multiple mutations allowed incremental changes in viral fitness, which together may have contributed to the apparent increase in severity of A(H1N1)pdm09 influenza virus during successive waves. IMPORTANCE:Although most people infected with the 2009 pandemic influenza virus had mild or unapparent symptoms, some suffered severe and devastating disease. The reasons for this variability were unknown, but the numbers of severe cases increased during successive waves of human infection in the United Kingdom. To determine the

  • Journal article
    Jia N, Barclay WS, Roberts K, Yen H-L, Chan RWY, Lam AKY, Air G, Peiris JSM, Dell A, Nicholls JM, Haslam SMet al., 2014,

    Glycomic Characterization of Respiratory Tract Tissues of Ferrets IMPLICATIONS FOR ITS USE IN INFLUENZA VIRUS INFECTION STUDIES

    , JOURNAL OF BIOLOGICAL CHEMISTRY, Vol: 289, Pages: 28489-28504

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