The evolutionary dynamics of Oropouche Virus (OROV) in South America
Gutierrez B., Wise E., Pullan S., Logue C., Bowden T., Trueba G., Nunes M., Faria N., Pybus O.
Abstract The Amazon basin is host to numerous arthropod-borne viral pathogens that cause febrile disease in humans. Among these, Oropouche orthobunyavirus (OROV) is a relatively understudied member of the Peribunyavirales that causes periodic outbreaks in human populations in Brazil and other South American countries. Although several studies have described the genetic diversity of the virus, the evolutionary processes that shape the viral genome remain poorly understood. Here we present a comprehensive study of the genomic dynamics of OROV that encompasses phylogenetic analysis, evolutionary rate estimates, inference of natural selective pressures, recombination and reassortment, and structural analysis of OROV variants. Our study includes all available published sequences, as well as a set of new OROV genomes sequences obtained from patients in Ecuador, representing the first set of viral genomes from this country. Our results show that differing evolutionary processes on the three segments that encompass the viral genome lead to variable evolutionary rates and TMRCAs that could be explained by cryptic reassortment. We also present the discovery of previously unobserved putative N-linked glycosylation sites, and codons which evolve under positive selection on the viral surface proteins, and discuss the potential role of these features in the evolution of the virus through a combined phylogenetic and structural approach.