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Infect Genet Evol. 2017 Jul;51:219-226. doi: 10.1016/j.meegid.2017.04.010. Epub 2017 Apr 12.

High levels of local inter- and intra-host genetic variation of West Nile virus and evidence of fine-scale evolutionary pressures.

Author information

1
The Arbovirus Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Slingerlands, NY, United States.
2
Suffolk County Arthropod-Borne Disease Laboratory, Yaphank, New York, United States.
3
The Arbovirus Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Slingerlands, NY, United States; Department of Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Albany School of Public Health, Albany, NY, United States.
4
The Arbovirus Laboratory, Wadsworth Center, New York State Department of Health, Slingerlands, NY, United States; Department of Biomedical Sciences, State University of New York at Albany School of Public Health, Albany, NY, United States. Electronic address: alexander.ciota@health.ny.gov.

Abstract

West Nile virus (WNV; Flaviviridae, Flavivirus) has been endemic in New York State (NYS) since its 1999 introduction, yet prevalence in Culex mosquitoes varies substantially over small spatial and temporal scales. It is unclear if viral genetics plays a role in this variability, as genetic and phenotypic characterization on local scales has generally been lacking. In addition, intrahost diversity of circulating strains have not been fully characterized despite the documented role of minority variants in viral fitness and virulence. In an effort to characterize WNV variability within epidemiologically relevant scales, we performed phylogenetic analyses on NYS isolates from 1999 to 2012. In addition, we performed full-genome, deep-sequencing and genetic analyses on 15 WNV strains isolated in 2012 from Cx. pipiens in an endemic focus of Suffolk County, NY. Our results indicate continued evolution and seasonal maintenance in NYS, yet also widespread mixing and high levels of genetic diversity within geographic foci and individual seasons. Well supported local clusters with shared amino acid differences were identified and suggest local evolutionary pressures and the potential for phenotypic variability. Intrahost diversity of focal isolates was also high, with polymorphism at levels >1.0% identified in approximately 10% of the WNV genome. Although most minority mutations were unique, mutational hotspots shared among local isolates were identified, particularly in C, NS1 and NS2A genes. The most polymorphic region, positions 3198-3388 of the NS1 gene, was comprised predominately of non-synonymous mutations, suggesting a selective advantage for amino acid diversity in this region.

KEYWORDS:

Arbovirus evolution; Culex pipiens; Flavivirus; Intrahost diversity; West Nile virus

PMID:
28411164
DOI:
10.1016/j.meegid.2017.04.010
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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