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Gene. 2007 Sep 15;399(2):152-61. Epub 2007 May 25.

Rapid fixation of a distinctive sequence motif in the 3' noncoding region of the clade of West Nile virus invading North America.

Author information

1
Department of Biological Sciences, University of South Carolina, Columbia, SC 29208, United States. austin@biol.sc.edu

Abstract

Phylogenetic analysis of complete genomes of West Nile virus (WNV) by a variety of methods supported the hypothesis that North American isolates of WNV constitute a monophyletic group, together with an isolate from Israel and one from Hungary. We used ancestral sequence reconstruction in order to obtain evidence for evolutionary changes that might be correlated with increased virulence in this clade (designated the N.A. clade). There was one amino acid change (I-->T at residue 356 of the NS3 protein) that occurred in the ancestor of the N.A. clade and remained conserved in all N.A. clade genomes analyzed. There were four changes in the upstream portion of the 3' noncoding region (the AT-enriched region) that occurred in the ancestor of the N.A. clade and remained conserved in all N.A. clade genomes analyzed, changes predicted to alter RNA secondary structure. The AT-enriched region showed a higher rate of substitution in the branch ancestral to the N.A. clade, relative to polymorphism, than did the remainder of the noncoding regions, synonymous sites in coding regions, or nonsynonymous sites in coding regions. The high rate of occurrence of fixed nucleotide substitutions in this region suggests that positive Darwinian selection may have acted on this portion of the 3'NCR and that these fixed changes, possibly in concert with the amino acid change in NS3, may underlie phenotypic effects associated with increased virulence in North American WNV.

PMID:
17587514
PMCID:
PMC2268991
DOI:
10.1016/j.gene.2007.05.007
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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