Biological Characteristics and Patterns of Codon Usage Evolution for the African Genotype Zika Virus


Faye M, Zein N, Loucoubar C, Weidmann M, Faye O, Cunha MdP, Zanotto PMdA, Alpha Sall A & Faye O (2020) Biological Characteristics and Patterns of Codon Usage Evolution for the African Genotype Zika Virus. Viruses, 12 (11), Art. No.: 1306.

We investigated temporal trends of codon usage changes for different host species to determine their importance in Zika virus (ZIKV) evolution. Viral spillover resulting from the potential of codon adaptation to host genome was also assessed for the African genotype ZIKV in comparison to the Asian genotype. To improve our understanding on its zoonotic maintenance, we evaluated in vitro the biological properties of the African genotype ZIKV in vertebrate and mosquito cell lines. Analyses were performed in comparison to Yellow fever virus (YFV). Despite significantly lower codon adaptation index trends than YFV, ZIKV showed evident codon adaptation to vertebrate hosts, particularly for the green African monkey Chlorocebus aethiops. PCA and CAI analyses at the individual ZIKV gene level for both human and Aedes aegypti indicated a clear distinction between the two genotypes. African ZIKV isolates showed higher virulence in mosquito cells than in vertebrate cells. Their higher replication in mosquito cells than African YFV confirmed the role of mosquitoes in the natural maintenance of the African genotype ZIKV. An analysis of individual strain growth characteristics indicated that the widely used reference strain MR766 replicates poorly in comparison to African ZIKV isolates. The recombinant African Zika virus strain ArD128000*E/NS5 may be a good model to include in studies on the mechanism of host tropism, as it cannot replicate in the tested vertebrate cell line.

African genotype Zika virus; codon adaption dynamics; biological characteristics

Viruses: Volume 12, Issue 11

Publication date30/11/2020
Publication date online14/11/2020
Date accepted by journal12/10/2020