Evolutionary relationship between Old World West Nile virus strains. Evidence for viral gene flow between Africa, the Middle East, and Europe.

Virology

PubMedID: 14585341

Charrel RN, Brault AC, Gallian P, Lemasson JJ, Murgue B, Murri S, Pastorino B, Zeller H, de Chesse R, De Micco P, de Lamballerie X. Evolutionary relationship between Old World West Nile virus strains. Evidence for viral gene flow between Africa, the Middle East, and Europe. Virology. 2003;315(2):381-8.
Little is known about the genetic relationships between European and other Old-World strains of West Nile virus (WNV) and persistence of WNV North of Mediterranean. We characterized the complete genomes of three WNV strains from France (horse-2000), Tunisia (human-1997) and Kenya (mosquito-1998), and the envelope, NS3 and NS5 genes of the Koutango virus. Phylogenetic analyses including all available full-length sequences showed that: (1) Koutango virus is a distant variant of WNV; (2) the three characterized strains belong to lineage 1, clade 1a; (3) the Tunisian strain roots the lineage of viruses introduced in North America. We established that currently available partial envelope sequences do not generate reliable phylogenies. Accordingly, establishing a large WNV sequence database is pivotal for the understanding of spatial and temporal epidemiology of this virus. For rapid completion of that purpose, colinearized E-NS3-NS5 gene sequences were shown to constitute a valuable surrogate for complete sequences.