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, 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
    Peacock TP, Benton DJ, James J, Sadeyen J-R, Chang P, Sealy JE, Bryant JE, Martin SR, Shelton H, Barclay WS, Iqbal Met al., 2017,

    Immune Escape Variants of H9N2 Influenza Viruses Containing Deletions at the Hemagglutinin Receptor Binding Site Retain Fitness In Vivo and Display Enhanced Zoonotic Characteristics

    , Journal of Virology, Vol: 91, ISSN: 1098-5514

    H9N2 avian influenza viruses are enzootic in poultry across Asia and North Africa, where they pose a threat to human health as both zoonotic agents and potential pandemic candidates. Poultry vaccination against H9N2 viruses has been employed in many regions; however, vaccine effectiveness is frequently compromised due to antigenic drift arising from amino acid substitutions in the major influenza virus antigen hemagglutinin (HA). Using selection with HA-specific monoclonal antibodies, we previously identified H9N2 antibody escape mutants that contained deletions of amino acids in the 220 loop of the HA receptor binding sites (RBSs). Here we analyzed the impact of these deletions on virus zoonotic infection characteristics and fitness. We demonstrated that mutant viruses with RBS deletions are able to escape polyclonal antiserum binding and are able to infect and be transmitted between chickens. We showed that the deletion mutants have increased binding to human-like receptors and greater replication in primary human airway cells; however, the mutant HAs also displayed reduced pH and thermal stability. In summary, we infer that variant influenza viruses with deletions in the 220 loop could arise in the field due to immune selection pressure; however, due to reduced HA stability, we conclude that these viruses are unlikely to be transmitted from human to human by the airborne route, a prerequisite for pandemic emergence. Our findings underscore the complex interplay between antigenic drift and viral fitness for avian influenza viruses as well as the challenges of predicting which viral variants may pose the greatest threats for zoonotic and pandemic emergence.

  • Journal article
    Barclay WS, 2017,

    Influenza: a world of discoveries, outbreaks and controversy

    , JOURNAL OF GENERAL VIROLOGY, Vol: 98, Pages: 892-894, ISSN: 0022-1317
  • Journal article
    Cole SL, Dunning J, Kok WL, Benam KH, Benlahrech A, Repapi E, Martinez FO, Drumright L, Powell TJ, Bennett M, Elderfield R, Thomas C, MOSAIC investigators, Dong T, McCauley J, Liew FY, Taylor S, Zambon M, Barclay W, Cerundolo V, Openshaw PJ, McMichael AJ, Ho LPet al., 2017,

    M1-like monocytes are a major immunological determinant of severity in previously healthy adults with life-threatening influenza.

    , JCI Insight, Vol: 2, ISSN: 2379-3708

    In each influenza season, a distinct group of young, otherwise healthy individuals with no risk factors succumbs to life-threatening infection. To better understand the cause for this, we analyzed a broad range of immune responses in blood from a unique cohort of patients, comprising previously healthy individuals hospitalized with and without respiratory failure during one influenza season, and infected with one specific influenza A strain. This analysis was compared with similarly hospitalized influenza patients with known risk factors (total of n = 60 patients recruited). We found a sustained increase in a specific subset of proinflammatory monocytes, with high TNF-α expression and an M1-like phenotype (independent of viral titers), in these previously healthy patients with severe disease. The relationship between M1-like monocytes and immunopathology was strengthened using murine models of influenza, in which severe infection generated using different models (including the high-pathogenicity H5N1 strain) was also accompanied by high levels of circulating M1-like monocytes. Additionally, a raised M1/M2 macrophage ratio in the lungs was observed. These studies identify a specific subtype of monocytes as a modifiable immunological determinant of disease severity in this subgroup of severely ill, previously healthy patients, offering potential novel therapeutic avenues.

  • Journal article
    Peacock TP, Benton DJ, Sadeyen J-R, Chang P, Sealy JE, Bryant JE, Martin SR, Shelton H, McCauley JW, Barclay WS, Iqbal Met al., 2017,

    Variability in H9N2 haemagglutinin receptor-binding preference and the pH of fusion

    , EMERGING MICROBES & INFECTIONS, Vol: 6, ISSN: 2222-1751

    H9N2 avian influenza viruses are primarily a disease of poultry; however, they occasionally infect humans and are considered a potential pandemic threat. Little work has been performed to assess the intrinsic biochemical properties related to zoonotic potential of H9N2 viruses. The objective of this study, therefore, was to investigate H9N2 haemagglutinins (HAs) using two well-known correlates for human adaption: receptor-binding avidity and pH of fusion. Receptor binding was characterized using bio-layer interferometry to measure virus binding to human and avian-like receptor analogues and the pH of fusion was assayed by syncytium formation in virus-infected cells at different pHs. We characterized contemporary H9N2 viruses of the zoonotic G1 lineage, as well as representative viruses of the zoonotic BJ94 lineage. We found that most contemporary H9N2 viruses show a preference for sulphated avian-like receptor analogues. However, the ‘Eastern’ G1 H9N2 viruses displayed a consistent preference in binding to a human-like receptor analogue. We demonstrate that the presence of leucine at position 226 of the HA receptor-binding site correlated poorly with the ability to bind a human-like sialic acid receptor. H9N2 HAs also display variability in their pH of fusion, ranging between pH 5.4 and 5.85 which is similar to that of the first wave of human H1N1pdm09 viruses but lower than the pH of fusion seen in zoonotic H5N1 and H7N9 viruses. Our results suggest possible molecular mechanisms that may underlie the relatively high prevalence of human zoonotic infection by particular H9N2 virus lineages.

  • Journal article
    Lipsitch M, Barclay W, Raman R, Russell CJ, Belser JA, Cobey S, Kasson PM, Lloyd-Smith JO, Maurer-Stroh S, Riley S, Beauchemin CAA, Bedford T, Friedrich TC, Handel A, Herfst S, Murcia PR, Roche B, Wilke CO, Russell CAet al., 2016,

    Viral factors in influenza pandemic risk assessment

    , eLife, Vol: 5, ISSN: 2050-084X

    The threat of an influenza A virus pandemic stems from continual virus spillovers from reservoir species, a tiny fraction of which spark sustained transmission in humans. To date, no pandemic emergence of a new influenza strain has been preceded by detection of a closely related precursor in an animal or human. Nonetheless, influenza surveillance efforts are expanding, prompting a need for tools to assess the pandemic risk posed by a detected virus. The goal would be to use genetic sequence and/or biological assays of viral traits to identify those non-human influenza viruses with the greatest risk of evolving into pandemic threats, and/or to understand drivers of such evolution, to prioritize pandemic prevention or response measures. We describe such efforts, identify progress and ongoing challenges, and discuss three specific traits of influenza viruses (hemagglutinin receptor binding specificity, hemagglutinin pH of activation, and polymerase complex efficiency) that contribute to pandemic risk.

  • Journal article
    Dowall SD, Bewley K, Watson RJ, Vasan SS, Ghosh C, Konai MM, Gausdal G, Lorens JB, Long J, Barclay W, Garcia-Dorival I, Hiscox J, Bosworth A, Taylor I, Easterbrook L, Pitman J, Summers S, Chan-Pensley J, Funnell S, Vipond J, Charlton S, Haldar J, Hewson R, Carroll MWet al., 2016,

    Antiviral Screening of Multiple Compounds against Ebola Virus

    , Viruses, Vol: 8, ISSN: 1999-4915

    In light of the recent outbreak of Ebola virus (EBOV) disease in West Africa, there have been renewed efforts to search for effective antiviral countermeasures. A range of compounds currently available with broad antimicrobial activity have been tested for activity against EBOV. Using live EBOV, eighteen candidate compounds were screened for antiviral activity in vitro. The compounds were selected on a rational basis because their mechanisms of action suggested that they had the potential to disrupt EBOV entry, replication or exit from cells or because they had displayed some antiviral activity against EBOV in previous tests. Nine compounds caused no reduction in viral replication despite cells remaining healthy, so they were excluded from further analysis (zidovudine; didanosine; stavudine; abacavir sulphate; entecavir; JB1a; Aimspro; celgosivir; and castanospermine). A second screen of the remaining compounds and the feasibility of appropriateness for in vivo testing removed six further compounds (ouabain; omeprazole; esomeprazole; Gleevec; D-LANA-14; and Tasigna). The three most promising compounds (17-DMAG; BGB324; and NCK-8) were further screened for in vivo activity in the guinea pig model of EBOV disease. Two of the compounds, BGB324 and NCK-8, showed some effect against lethal infection in vivo at the concentrations tested, which warrants further investigation. Further, these data add to the body of knowledge on the antiviral activities of multiple compounds against EBOV and indicate that the scientific community should invest more effort into the development of novel and specific antiviral compounds to treat Ebola virus disease.

  • 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.

This data is extracted from the Web of Science and reproduced under a licence from Thomson Reuters. You may not copy or re-distribute this data in whole or in part without the written consent of the Science business of Thomson Reuters.

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