A detailed comparative analysis of codon usage bias in Zika virus

Cristina J, Fajardo A, Soñora M, Moratorio G, Musto H

10.1016/j.virusres.2016.06.022 19/02/2023

PMID: 27449601


Zika virus (ZIKV) is a member of the family Flaviviridae and its genome consists of a single-stranded positive sense RNA molecule with 10,794 nucleotides. Clinical manifestations of disease caused by ZIKV infection range from asymptomatic cases to an influenza-like syndrome. There is an increasing concern about the possible relation among microcephaly and ZIKV infection. To get insight into the relation of codon usage among viruses and their hosts is extremely important to understand virus survival, fitness, evasion from host’s immune system and evolution. In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis of codon usage and composition of ZIKV. The overall codon usage among ZIKV strains is similar and slightly biased. Different codon preferences in ZIKV genes in relation to codon usage of human, Aedes aegypti and Aedes albopictus genes were found. Most of the highly frequent codons are A-ending, which strongly suggests that mutational bias is the main force shaping codon usage in this virus. G+C compositional constraint as well as dinucleotide composition also influence the codon usage of ZIKV. The results of these studies suggest that the emergence of ZIKV outside Africa, in the Pacific and the Americas may also be reflected in ZIKV codon usage. No significant differences were found in codon usage among strains isolated from microcephaly cases and the rest of strains from the Asian cluster enrolled in these studies.

Keywords: Codon bias; Codon usage; Evolution; Zika.