Whole genome detection of rotavirus mixed infections in human, porcine and bovine samples co-infected with various rotavirus strains collected from sub-Saharan Africa
Nyaga MM, Jere KC, Esona MD, Seheri ML, Stucker KM, Halpin RA, Akopov A, Stockwell TB, Peenze I, Diop A, Ndiaye K, Boula A, Maphalala G, Berejena C, Mwenda JM, Steele AD, Wentworth DE, Mphahlele MJ
Group A rotaviruses (RVA) are among the main global causes of severe diarrhea in children under the age of 5years. Strain diversity, mixed infections and untypeable RVA strains are frequently reported in Africa. We analysed rotavirus-positive human stool samples (n=13) obtained from hospitalised children under the age of 5years who presented with acute gastroenteritis at sentinel hospital sites in six African countries, as well as bovine and porcine stool samples (n=1 each), to gain insights into rotavirus diversity and evolution. Polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis (PAGE) analysis and genotyping with G-(VP7) and P-specific (VP4) typing primers suggested that 13 of the 15 samples contained more than 11 segments and/or mixed G/P genotypes. Full-length amplicons for each segment were generated using RVA-specific primers and sequenced using the Ion Torrent and/or Illumina MiSeq next-generation sequencing platforms. Sequencing detected at least one segment in each sample for which duplicate sequences, often having distinct genotypes, existed. This supported and extended the PAGE and RT-PCR genotyping findings that suggested these samples were collected from individuals that had mixed rotavirus infections. The study reports the first porcine (MRC-DPRU1567) and bovine (MRC-DPRU3010) mixed infections. We also report a unique genome segment 9 (VP7), whose G9 genotype belongs to lineage VI and clusters with porcine reference strains. Previously, African G9 strains have all been in lineage III. Furthermore, additional RVA segments isolated from humans have a clear evolutionary relationship with porcine, bovine and ovine rotavirus sequences, indicating relatively recent interspecies transmission and reassortment. Thus, multiple RVA strains from sub-Saharan Africa are infecting mammalian hosts with unpredictable variations in their gene segment combinations. Whole-genome sequence analyses of mixed RVA strains underscore the considerable diversity of rotavirus sequences and genome segment combinations that result from a complex evolutionary history involving multiple host species.