Molecular Evolution of Zika Virus during Its Emergence in the 20th Century
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Molecular Evolution of Zika Virus during Its Emergence in the 20th Century

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  • Alternative Title:
    PLoS Negl Trop Dis
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    Zika virus (ZIKV) is a mosquito-borne flavivirus first isolated in Uganda in 1947. Although entomological and virologic surveillance have reported ZIKV enzootic activity in diverse countries of Africa and Asia, few human cases were reported until 2007, when a Zika fever epidemic took place in Micronesia. In the context of West Africa, the WHO Collaborating Centre for Arboviruses and Hemorrhagic Fever at Institut Pasteur of Dakar (|) reports the periodic circulation of ZIKV since 1968. Despite several reports on ZIKV, the genetic relationships among viral strains from West Africa remain poorly understood. To evaluate the viral spread and its molecular epidemiology, we investigated 37 ZIKV isolates collected from 1968 to 2002 in six localities in Senegal and Côte d'Ivoire. In addition, we included strains from six other countries. Our results suggested that these two countries in West Africa experienced at least two independent introductions of ZIKV during the 20| century, and that apparently these viral lineages were not restricted by mosquito vector species. Moreover, we present evidence that ZIKV has possibly undergone recombination in nature and that a loss of the N154 glycosylation site in the envelope protein was a possible adaptive response to the | vector.|Zika fever is a mosquito-borne illness caused by a flavivirus. Human infections with Zika virus (ZIKV) could cause fever, malaise and cutaneous rash. Despite several ZIKV reports since 1947 when it was first isolated at Zika forest in Uganda, molecular evolution of ZIKV as an emerging agent remains poorly understood. Moreover, despite several ZIKV reports from Africa and Asia, few human cases were notified until 2007 when an epidemic took place in Micronesia. In West Africa, surveillance programs have reported periodic circulation of the virus since 1968. To help fill the gap in understanding ZIKV evolution, 43 ZIKV samples were analyzed. We focused on: (|) adaptive genetic changes including protein glycosylation patterns, (|) phylogenetic relationship among isolates and their spatiotemporal patterns of spread across Africa and Asia and, (|) dispersion among vertebrate reservoirs and invertebrate vector species. Our results indicated that ZIKV may have experienced recombination in nature and that, after it emerged from Uganda in the early of the 20| century, it moved to West Africa and Asia in the first half of the century, without any clear preference for host and vector species.
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