Evolutionary dynamics of human and avian metapneumoviruses

Miranda de Graaf, Ab Osterhaus, Ron Fouchier, EC Holmes

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Human (HMPV) and avian (AMPV) metapneumoviruses are closely related viruses that cause respiratory tract illnesses in humans and birds, respectively. Although HMPV was first discovered in 2001, retrospective studies have shown that HMPV has been circulating in humans for at least 50 years. AMPV was first isolated in the 1970s, and can be classified into four subgroups, A-D. AMPV subgroup C is more closely related to HMPV than to any other AMPV subgroup, suggesting that HMPV has emerged from AMPV-C upon zoonosis. Presently, at least four genetic lineages of HMPV circulate in human populations - A1, A2, B1 and B2 - of which lineages A and B are antigenically distinct. We used a Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo (MCMC) framework to determine the evolutionary and epidemiological dynamics of HMPV and AMPV-C. The rates of nucleotide substitution, relative genetic diversity and time to the most recent common ancestor (TMRCA) were estimated using large sets of sequences of the nucleoprotein, the fusion protein and attachment protein genes. The sampled genetic diversity of HMPV was found to have arisen within the past 119-133 years, with consistent results across all three genes, while the TMRCA for HMPV and AMPV-C was estimated to have existed around 200 years ago. The relative genetic diversity observed in the four HMPV lineages was low, most likely reflecting continual population bottlenecks, with only limited evidence for positive selection.
Original languageUndefined/Unknown
Pages (from-to)2933-2942
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of General Virology
Publication statusPublished - 2008

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