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Vector Borne Zoonotic Dis. 2010 Nov;10(9):889-907. doi: 10.1089/vbz.2009.0069. Epub 2010 Apr 26.

Phylogeographic structure and evolutionary history of Sindbis virus.

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  • 1Department of Ecology and Evolution/Population Biology, Evolutionary Biology Centre, Uppsala University, Uppsala, Sweden.


Sindbis (SIN) virus, Alphavirus, is a mosquito-borne and bird-associated virus with large geographic distribution in the Old World. We investigated the genetic diversity of 59 SIN strains after limited sequencing of their E2 glycoprotein genes. The SIN strains showed maximal diversity of 22.2% at the amino acid (aa) level, and formed five tentative genotypes. The SIN-I genotype included strains from Europe and Africa. Strains from Australia and East Asia formed SIN-II and SIN-III with about 12% and 15% aa divergence from SIN-I. The only isolate from New Zealand was distinct, and constitutes the SIN-V genotype. Isolates from Azerbaijan and China formed genotype SIN-IV with 15.6%-19.1% aa divergence from SIN-I to III and SIN-V. Phylogenetic analyses indicated that Aura virus was present before the recombinant alphavirus lineage arose. This is consistent with a South American origin of the SIN complex, and argue for a spread in North America before reaching Asia and Australia, followed by westward radiation into Africa and Europe. High levels of sequence identities were observed for geographic regions belonging to the same north-south axis, whereas the east-west genetic exchange appears to be limited. The observed phylogeographic structure was confirmed by distinct aa patterns within two-thirds of the structural protein-coding region of SIN virus strains from Saudi Arabia, Asia, and Australia. The present geography of the five SIN genotypes and subclusters within SIN-I correlate with major bird migration patterns.

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