Host influence in the genomic composition of flaviviruses: A multivariate approach

Simón D, Fajardo A, Sóñora M, Delfraro A, Musto H

10.1016/j.bbrc.2017.06.088 17/06/2017

PMID: 28630001


Flaviviruses present substantial differences in their host range and transmissibility. We studied the evolution of base composition, dinucleotide biases, codon usage and amino acid frequencies in the genus Flavivirus within a phylogenetic framework by principal components analysis. There is a mutual interplay between the evolutionary history of flaviviruses and their respective vectors and/or hosts. Hosts associated to distinct phylogenetic groups may be driving flaviviruses at different pace and through various sequence landscapes, as can be seen for viruses associated with Aedes or Culex spp., although phylogenetic inertia cannot be ruled out. In some cases, viruses face even opposite forces. For instance, in tick-borne flaviviruses, while vertebrate hosts exert pressure to deplete their CpG, tick vectors drive them to exhibit GC-rich codons. Within a vertebrate environment, natural selection appears to be acting on the viral genome to overcome the immune system. On the other side, within an arthropod environment, mutational biases seem to be the dominant forces.

Keywords: Amino acids; Base composition; Codon usage; Dinucleotides; Flavivirus.