An evolutionary insight into emerging Ebolavirus strains isolated in Africa

Pereira-Gomez M, Lopez-Tort F, Fajardo A, Cristina J

10.1002/jmv.25627 18/11/2019

PMID: 31702053


On July 19, 2019, the World Health Organization declared the current Ebolavirus (EBOV) outbreak in Congo Democratic Republic (COD) a public health emergency of international concern. To address the potential threat of EBOV evolution outpacing antibody treatment and vaccine efforts, a detailed evolutionary analysis of EBOV strains circulating in different African countries was performed. Genome composition of EBOV strains was studied using multivariate statistical analysis. To investigate the patterns of evolution of EBOV strains, a Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo approach was used. Two different genetic lineages, with a distinct genome composition gave rise to the recent EBOV outbreaks in central and western Africa. Strains isolated in COD in 2018 fall into two different genetic clusters, according to their geographical location of isolation. Different amino acid substitutions among strains from these two clusters have been found, particularly in NP, GP, and L proteins. Significant differences in codon and amino acid usage among clusters were found. Strains isolated in COD in 2018 belong to two distinct genetic clusters, with distinct codon and amino acid usage. Geographical diversity plays an important role in shaping the molecular evolution of EBOV populations.

Keywords: Ebolavirus; GP protein; codon usage; evolution.