Human parechoviruses (HPeVs) are highly prevalent RNA viruses classified in the family . Several antigenically distinct types circulate in human populations worldwide, whilst recombination additionally contributes to the genetic heterogeneity of the virus. To investigate factors influencing the likelihood of recombination and to compare its dynamics among types, 154 variants collected from four widely geographically separated referral centres (UK, The Netherlands, Thailand and Brazil) were typed by VP3/VP1 amplification/sequencing with recombination groups assigned by analysis of 3Dpol sequences. HPeV1B and HPeV3 were the most frequently detected types in each referral region, but with marked geographical differences in the frequencies of different recombinant forms (RFs) of types 1B, 5 and 6. HPeV1B showed more frequent recombination than HPeV3, in terms both of evolutionary divergence and of temporal/geographical indicators of population separation. HPeV1 variants showing between 10 and 20 % divergence in VP3/VP1 almost invariably fell into different recombination groups, compared with only one-third of similarly divergent HPeV3 variants. Substitution rates calculated by in the VP3/VP1 region of HPeV1 and HPeV3 allowed half-lives of the RFs of 4 and 20 years, respectively, to be calculated, estimates fitting closely with their observed lifespans based on population sampling. The variability in recombination dynamics between HPeV1B and HPeV3 offers an intriguing link with their markedly different seasonal patterns of transmission, age distributions of infection and clinical outcomes. Future investigation of the epidemiological and biological opportunities and constraints on intertypic recombination will provide more information about its influence on the longer term evolution and pathogenicity of parechoviruses.


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vol. , part 5, pp. 1229 - 1238

List of the locations, sample dates and sources for the sequences used in this study [PDF] (26 KB)


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