A comprehensive systems biology approach to studying zika virus

Meghan May, Ryan F. Relich

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

9 Scopus citations


Zika virus (ZIKV) is responsible for an ongoing and intensifying epidemic in the Western Hemisphere. We examined the complete predicted proteomes, glycomes, and selectomes of 33 ZIKV strains representing temporally diverse members of the African lineage, the Asian lineage, and the current outbreak in the Americas. Derivation of the complete selectome is an 'omics' approach to identify distinct evolutionary pressures acting on different features of an organism. Employment of the M8 model did not show evidence of global diversifying selection acting on the ZIKV polyprotein; however, a mixed effect model of evolution showed strong evidence (P<0.05) for episodic diversifying selection acting on specific sites. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were predictably frequent across strains relative to the derived consensus sequence. None of the 9 published detection procedures utilize targets that share 100% identity across the 33 strains examined, indicating that ZIKV escape from molecular detection is predictable. The predicted O-linked glycome showed marked diversity across strains; however, the N-linked glycome was highly stable. All Asian and American strains examined were predicted to include glycosylation of E protein ASN154, a modification proposed to mediate neurotropism, whereas the modification was not predicted for African strains. SNP diversity, episodic diversifying selection, and differential glycosylation, particularly of ASN154, may have major biological implications for ZIKV disease. Taken together, the systems biology perspective of ZIKV indicates: a.) The recently emergent Asian/American N-glycotype is mediating the new and emerging neuropathogenic potential of ZIKV; and b.) further divergence at specific sites is predictable as endemnicity is established in the Americas.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0161355
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)
  • General

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