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Unravelling Selection Shifts Among Foot-and-Mouth Disease Virus (FMDV) Serotypes

Author(s): Damien C. Tully | Mario A. Fares

Journal: Evolutionary Bioinformatics
ISSN 1176-9343

Volume: 2;
Start page: 211;
Date: 2006;
Original page

Keywords: FMDV | Adaptive Evolution | Selection shifts | Coevolution

FMDV virus has been increasingly recognised as the most economically severe animal virus with a remarkable degree of antigenic diversity. Using an integrative evolutionary and computational approach we have compelling evidence for heterogeneity in the selection forces shaping the evolution of the seven different FMDV serotypes. Our results show that positive Darwinian selection has governed the evolution of the major antigenic regions of serotypes A, Asia1, O, SAT1 and SAT2, but not C or SAT3. Co-evolution between sites from antigenic regions under positive selection pinpoints their functional communication to generate immune-escape mutants while maintaining their ability to recognise the host-cell receptors. Neural network and functional divergence analyses strongly point to selection shifts between the different serotypes. Our results suggest that, unlike African FMDV serotypes, serotypes with wide geographical distribution have accumulated compensatory mutations as a strategy to ameliorate the effect of slightly deleterious mutations fixed by genetic drift. This strategy may have provided the virus by a flexibility to generate immune-escape mutants and yet recognise host-cell receptors. African serotypes presented no evidence for compensatory mutations. Our results support heterogeneous selective constraints affecting the different serotypes. This points to the possible accelerated rates of evolution diverging serotypes sharing geographical locations as to ameliorate the competition for the host.
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