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PLoS Negl Trop Dis. 2009 Aug 4;3(8):e493. doi: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0000493.

Dengue 1 diversity and microevolution, French Polynesia 2001-2006: connection with epidemiology and clinics.

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UMR190, Emergence des Pathologies Virales, Université de la Méditerranée and Institut de Recherche pour le Développement, Marseille, France.



Dengue fever (DF) is an emerging infectious disease in the tropics and subtropics. Determinants of DF epidemiology and factors involved in severe cases-dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS)-remain imperfectly characterized. Since 2000, serotype 1 (DENV-1) has predominated in the South Pacific. The aim of this study was (i) to determine the origin and (ii) to study the evolutionary relationships of DENV-1 viruses that have circulated in French Polynesia (FP) from the severe 2001 outbreak to the recent 2006 epidemic, and (iii) to analyse the viral intra-host genetic diversity according to clinical presentation.


Sequences of 181 envelope gene and 12 complete polyproteins of DENV-1 viruses obtained from human sera in FP during the 2001-2006 period were generated. Phylogenetic analysis showed that all DENV-1 FP strains belonged to genotype IV-"South Pacific" and derived from a single introduction event from South-East Asia followed by a 6-year in situ evolution. Although the ratio of nonsynonymous/synonymous substitutions per site indicated strong negative selection, a mutation in the envelope glycoprotein (S222T) appeared in 2002 and was subsequently fixed. It was noted that genetic diversification was very significant during the 2002-2005 period of endemic DENV-1 circulation. For nine DF sera and eight DHF/DSS sera, approximately 40 clones/serum of partial envelope gene were sequenced. Importantly, analysis revealed that the intra-host genetic diversity was significantly lower in severe cases than in classical DF.


First, this study showed that DENV-1 epidemiology in FP was different from that described in other South-Pacific islands, characterized by a long sustained viral circulation and the absence of new viral introduction over a 6-year period. Second, a significant part of DENV-1 evolution was observed during the endemic period characterized by the rapid fixation of S222T in the envelope protein that may reflect genetic drift or adaptation to the mosquito vector. Third, for the first time, it is suggested that clinical outcome may be correlated with intra-host genetic diversity.

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