Genetic diversity, seasonality and transmission network of human metapneumovirus: Identification of a unique sub-lineage of the fusion and attachment genes

Wei Zhen Chow, Yoke Fun Chan, Xiang Yong Oong, Liang Jie Ng, Siti Sarah Nor'E, Kim Tien Ng, Kok Gan Chan, Nik Sherina Hanafi, Yong Kek Pang, Adeeba Kamarulzaman, Kok Keng Tee

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Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is an important viral respiratory pathogen worldwide. Current knowledge regarding the genetic diversity, seasonality and transmission dynamics of HMPV among adults and children living in tropical climate remains limited. HMPV prevailed at 2.2% (n = 86/3,935) among individuals presented with acute respiratory tract infections in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia between 2012 and 2014. Seasonal peaks were observed during the northeast monsoon season (November-April) and correlated with higher relative humidity and number of rainy days (P < 0.05). Phylogenetic analysis of the fusion and attachment genes identified the co-circulation of three known HMPV sub-lineages, A2b and B1 (30.2% each, 26/86) and B2 (20.9%, 18/86), with genotype shift from sub-lineage B1 to A2b observed in 2013. Interestingly, a previously unrecognized sub-lineage of A2 was identified in 18.6% (16/86) of the population. Using a custom script for network construction based on the TN93 pairwise genetic distance, we identified up to nine HMPV transmission clusters circulating as multiple sub-epidemics. Although no apparent major outbreak was observed, the increased frequency of transmission clusters (dyads) during seasonal peaks suggests the potential roles of transmission clusters in driving the spread of HMPV. Our findings provide essential information for therapeutic research, prevention strategies, and disease outbreak monitoring of HMPV.

Original languageEnglish
Article number27730
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes

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