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PLoS One. 2012;7(11):e50660. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0050660. Epub 2012 Nov 29.

Molecular evolution of hemagglutinin (H) gene in measles virus genotypes D3, D5, D9, and H1.

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Gunma Prefectural Institute of Public Health and Environmental Sciences, Maebashi-shi, Gunma, Japan.


We studied the molecular evolution of H gene in four prevalent Asian genotypes (D3, D5, D9, and H1) of measles virus (MeV). We estimated the evolutionary time scale of the gene by the bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) method. In addition, we predicted the changes in structure of H protein due to selective pressures. The phylogenetic tree showed that the first division of these genotypes occurred around 1931, and further division of each type in the 1960-1970s resulted in four genotypes. The rate of molecular evolution was relatively slow (5.57×10(-4) substitutions per site per year). Only two positively selected sites (F476L and Q575K) were identified in H protein, although these substitutions might not have imparted significant changes to the structure of the protein or the epitopes for phylactic antibodies. The results suggested that the prevalent Asian MeV genotypes were generated over approximately 30-40 years and H protein was well conserved.

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