Comparative genomic analysis of genogroup 1 and genogroup 2 rotaviruses circulating in seven US cities, 2014-2016.
DOI: 10.1093/ve/veab023; PMCID: PMC8432945
For over a decade, the New Vaccine Surveillance Network (NVSN) has conducted active rotavirus (RVA) strain surveillance in the USA. The evolution of RVA in the post-vaccine introduction era and the possible effects of vaccine pressure on contemporary circulating strains in the USA are still under investigation. Here, we report the whole-gene characterization (eleven ORFs) for 157 RVA strains collected at seven NVSN sites during the 2014 through 2016 seasons. The sequenced strains included 52 G1P, 47 G12P, 18 G9P, 24 G2P, 5 G3P, as well as 7 vaccine strains, a single mixed strain (G9G12P), and 3 less common strains. The majority of the single and mixed strains possessed a Wa-like backbone with consensus genotype constellation of G1/G3/G9/G12-P-I1-R1-C1-M1-A1-N1-T1-E1-H1, while the G2P, G3P, and G2P strains displayed a DS-1-like genetic backbone with consensus constellation of G2/G3-P/P/P-I2-R2-C2-M2-A2-N2-T2-E2-H2. Two intergenogroup reassortant G1P strains were detected that appear to be progenies of reassortment events between Wa-like G1P and DS-1-like G2P strains. Two Rotarix® vaccine (RV1) and two RV5 derived (vd) reassortant strains were detected. Phylogenetic and similarity matrices analysis revealed 2-11 sub-genotypic allelic clusters among the genes of Wa- and DS-1-like strains. Most study strains clustered into previously defined alleles. Amino acid (AA) substitutions occurring in the neutralization epitopes of the VP7 and VP4 proteins characterized in this study were mostly neutral in nature, suggesting that these RVA proteins were possibly under strong negative or purifying selection in order to maintain competent and actual functionality, but fourteen radical (AA changes that occur between groups) AA substitutions were noted that may allow RVA strains to gain a selective advantage through immune escape. The tracking of RVA strains at the sub-genotypic allele constellation level will enhance our understanding of RVA evolution under vaccine pressure, help identify possible mechanisms of immune escape, and provide valuable information for formulation of future RVA vaccines.
NVSN; RVA; USA; alleles; neutralization epitopes; whole-genome sequencing
Esona MD, Gautam R, Katz E, et al. Comparative genomic analysis of genogroup 1 and genogroup 2 rotaviruses circulating in seven US cities, 2014-2016. Virus Evol. 2021;7(1):veab023. Published 2021 Mar 12. doi:10.1093/ve/veab023