From February 2000 through September 2001, a limited number of H6N2 influenza viruses were isolated from chickens in California. This report describes the genetic characterization of nine of these H6N2 viruses. All of the viruses analyzed had phylogenetically similar hemagglutinin (HA) and neuraminidase molecules that suggested the viruses shared a recent common ancestor. The analysis of the HA sequence of these viruses with all available H6 viruses from different hosts and locations showed that these genes do not separate into well-defined North American and Eurasian lineages. The neuraminidase genes of the California viruses contain an 18 amino acid deletion, a possible adaptation to growth in chickens. Analysis of the remaining gene segments of the California viruses revealed that three distinct genotypes of H6N2 viruses were present.
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