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Genetics. 2001 Jan; 157(1): 7–15.
PMCID: PMC1461471

Evidence for positive selection in foot-and-mouth disease virus capsid genes from field isolates.


The nature of selection on capsid genes of foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) was characterized by examining the ratio of nonsynonymous to synonymous substitutions in 11 data sets of sequences obtained from six different serotypes of FMDV. Using a method of analysis that assigns each codon position to one of a number of estimated values of nonsynonymous to synonymous ratio, significant evidence of positive selection was identified in 5 data sets, operating at 1-7% of codon positions. Evidence of positive selection was identified in complete capsid sequences of serotypes A and C and in VP1 sequences of serotypes SAT 1 and 2. Sequences of serotype SAT-2 recovered from a persistently infected African buffalo also revealed evidence for positive selection. Locations of codons under positive selection coincide closely with those of antigenic sites previously identified with the use of monoclonal antibody escape mutants. The vast majority of codons are under mild to strong purifying selection. However, these results suggest that arising antigenic variants benefit from a selective advantage in their interaction with the immune system, either during the course of an infection or in transmission to individuals with previous exposure to antigen. Analysis of amino acid usage at sites under positive selection indicates that this selective advantage can be conferred by amino acid substitutions that share physicochemically similar properties.

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Selected References

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