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Evolution of cocirculating varicella-zoster virus genotypes during a chickenpox outbreak in Guinea-Bissau

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DOI

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  • Daniel P Depledge
  • Eleanor R Gray
  • Samit Kundu
  • Samantha Cooray
  • Anja Poulsen
  • Peter Aaby
  • Judith Breuer
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UNLABELLED: Varicella-zoster virus (VZV), a double-stranded DNA alphaherpesvirus, is associated with seasonal outbreaks of varicella in nonimmunized populations. Little is known about whether these outbreaks are associated with a single or multiple viral genotypes and whether new mutations rapidly accumulate during transmission. Here, we take advantage of a well-characterized population cohort in Guinea-Bissau and produce a unique set of 23 full-length genome sequences, collected over 7 months from eight households. Comparative sequence analysis reveals that four distinct genotypes cocirculated among the population, three of which were present during the first week of the outbreak, although no patients were coinfected, which indicates that exposure to infectious virus from multiple sources is common during VZV outbreaks. Transmission of VZV was associated with length polymorphisms in the R1 repeat region and the origin of DNA replication. In two cases, these were associated with the formation of distinct lineages and point to the possible coevolution of these loci, despite the lack of any known functional link in VZV or related herpesviruses. We show that these and all other sequenced clade 5 viruses possess a distinct R1 repeat motif that increases the acidity of an ORF11p protein domain and postulate that this has either arisen or been lost following divergence of the major clades. Thus, sequencing of whole VZV genomes collected during an outbreak has provided novel insights into VZV biology, transmission patterns, and (recent) natural history.

IMPORTANCE: VZV is a highly infectious virus and the causative agent of chickenpox and shingles, the latter being particularly associated with the risk of painful complications. Seasonal outbreaks of chickenpox are very common among young children, yet little is known about the dynamics of the virus during person-to-person to transmission or whether multiple distinct viruses seed and/or cocirculate during an outbreak. In this study, we have sequenced chickenpox viruses from an outbreak in Guinea-Bissau that are supported by detailed epidemiological data. Our data show that multiple different virus strains seeded and were maintained throughout the 6-month outbreak period and that viruses transmitted between individuals accumulated new mutations in specific genomic regions. Of particular interest is the potential coevolution of two distinct parts of the genomes and our calculations of the rate of viral mutation, both of which increase our understanding of how VZV evolves over short periods of time in human populations.

OriginalsprogEngelsk
TidsskriftJournal of Virology
Vol/bind88
Udgave nummer24
Sider (fra-til)13936-46
Antal sider11
ISSN0022-538X
DOI
StatusUdgivet - dec. 2014

ID: 45094977