An Evolutionary Insight into Zika Virus Strains Isolated in the Latin American Region

Simón D, Fajardo A, Moreno P, Moratorio G, Cristina J

10.3390/v10120698 08/12/2019

PMID: 30544785


Zika virus (ZIKV) is an emerging pathogen member of the Flaviviridae family. ZIKV has spread rapidly in the Latin American region, causing hundreds of thousands of cases of ZIKV disease, as well as microcephaly in congenital infections. Detailed studies on the pattern of evolution of ZIKV strains have been extremely important to our understanding of viral survival, fitness, and evasion of the host’s immune system. For these reasons, we performed a comprehensive phylogenetic analysis of ZIKV strains recently isolated in the Americas. The results of these studies revealed evidence of diversification of ZIKV strains circulating in the Latin American region into at least five different genetic clusters. This diversification was also reflected in the different trends in dinucleotide bias and codon usage variation. Amino acid substitutions were found in E and prM proteins of the ZIKV strains isolated in this region, revealing the presence of novel genetic variants circulating in Latin America.

Keywords: Bayesian analyses; Zika; genetic variability; viral evolution.