Parallel evolution of influenza across multiple spatiotemporal scales.
ABSTRACT: Viral variants that arise in the global influenza population begin as de novo mutations in single infected hosts, but the evolutionary dynamics that transform within-host variation to global genetic diversity are poorly understood. Here, we demonstrate that influenza evolution within infected humans recapitulates many evolutionary dynamics observed at the global scale. We deep-sequence longitudinal samples from four immunocompromised patients with long-term H3N2 influenza infections. We find parallel evolution across three scales: within individual patients, in different patients in our study, and in the global influenza population. In hemagglutinin, a small set of mutations arises independently in multiple patients. These same mutations emerge repeatedly within single patients and compete with one another, providing a vivid clinical example of clonal interference. Many of these recurrent within-host mutations also reach a high global frequency in the decade following the patient infections. Our results demonstrate surprising concordance in evolutionary dynamics across multiple spatiotemporal scales.
Project description:Influenza viruses rapidly diversify within individual human infections. Several recent studies have deep-sequenced clinical influenza infections to identify viral variation within hosts, but it remains unclear how within-host mutations fare at the between-host scale. Here, we compare the genetic variation of H3N2 influenza within and between hosts to link viral evolutionary dynamics across scales. Synonymous sites evolve at similar rates at both scales, indicating that global evolution at these putatively neutral sites results from the accumulation of within-host variation. However, nonsynonymous mutations are depleted between hosts compared to within hosts, suggesting that selection purges many of the protein-altering changes that arise within hosts. The exception is at antigenic sites, where selection detectably favors nonsynonymous mutations at the global scale, but not within hosts. These results suggest that selection against deleterious mutations and selection for antigenic change are the main forces that act on within-host variants of influenza virus as they transmit and circulate between hosts.
Project description:Influenza B virus (IBV) undergoes seasonal antigenic drift more slowly than influenza A virus, but the reasons for this difference are unclear. While the evolutionary dynamics of influenza viruses play out globally, they are fundamentally driven by mutation, reassortment, drift, and selection at the level of individual hosts. These processes have recently been described for influenza A virus, but little is known about the evolutionary dynamics of IBV during individual infections and transmission events. Here, we define the within-host evolutionary dynamics of IBV by sequencing virus populations from naturally infected individuals enrolled in a prospective, community-based cohort over 8,176 person-seasons of observation. Through analysis of high depth-of-coverage sequencing data from samples from 91 individuals with influenza B, we find that IBV accumulates lower genetic diversity than previously observed for influenza A virus during acute infections. Consistent with studies of influenza A viruses, the within-host evolution of IBVs is characterized by purifying selection and the general absence of widespread positive selection of within-host variants. Analysis of shared genetic diversity across 15 sequence-validated transmission pairs suggests that IBV experiences a tight transmission bottleneck similar to that of influenza A virus. These patterns of local-scale evolution are consistent with the lower global evolutionary rate of IBV.IMPORTANCE The evolution of influenza virus is a significant public health problem and necessitates the annual evaluation of influenza vaccine formulation to keep pace with viral escape from herd immunity. Influenza B virus is a serious health concern for children, in particular, yet remains understudied compared to influenza A virus. Influenza B virus evolves more slowly than influenza A virus, but the factors underlying this are not completely understood. We studied how the within-host diversity of influenza B virus relates to its global evolution by sequencing viruses from a community-based cohort. We found that influenza B virus populations have lower within-host genetic diversity than influenza A virus and experience a tight genetic bottleneck during transmission. Our work provides insights into the varying dynamics of influenza viruses in human infection.
Project description:Information on global human movement patterns is central to spatial epidemiological models used to predict the behavior of influenza and other infectious diseases. Yet it remains difficult to test which modes of dispersal drive pathogen spread at various geographic scales using standard epidemiological data alone. Evolutionary analyses of pathogen genome sequences increasingly provide insights into the spatial dynamics of influenza viruses, but to date they have largely neglected the wealth of information on human mobility, mainly because no statistical framework exists within which viral gene sequences and empirical data on host movement can be combined. Here, we address this problem by applying a phylogeographic approach to elucidate the global spread of human influenza subtype H3N2 and assess its ability to predict the spatial spread of human influenza A viruses worldwide. Using a framework that estimates the migration history of human influenza while simultaneously testing and quantifying a range of potential predictive variables of spatial spread, we show that the global dynamics of influenza H3N2 are driven by air passenger flows, whereas at more local scales spread is also determined by processes that correlate with geographic distance. Our analyses further confirm a central role for mainland China and Southeast Asia in maintaining a source population for global influenza diversity. By comparing model output with the known pandemic expansion of H1N1 during 2009, we demonstrate that predictions of influenza spatial spread are most accurate when data on human mobility and viral evolution are integrated. In conclusion, the global dynamics of influenza viruses are best explained by combining human mobility data with the spatial information inherent in sampled viral genomes. The integrated approach introduced here offers great potential for epidemiological surveillance through phylogeographic reconstructions and for improving predictive models of disease control.
Project description:Strains of the influenza virus form coherent global populations, yet exist at the level of single infections in individual hosts. The relationship between these scales is a critical topic for understanding viral evolution. Here we investigate the within-host relationship between selection and the stochastic effects of genetic drift, estimating an effective population size of infection Ne for influenza infection. Examining whole-genome sequence data describing a chronic case of influenza B in a severely immunocompromised child we infer an Ne of 2.5 × 107 (95% confidence range 1.0 × 107 to 9.0 × 107) suggesting that genetic drift is of minimal importance during an established influenza infection. Our result, supported by data from influenza A infection, suggests that positive selection during within-host infection is primarily limited by the typically short period of infection. Atypically long infections may have a disproportionate influence upon global patterns of viral evolution.
Project description:Infections with the influenza C virus causing respiratory symptoms are common, particularly among children. Since isolation and detection of the virus are rarely performed, compared with influenza A and B viruses, the small number of available sequences of the virus makes it difficult to analyze its evolutionary dynamics. Recently, we reported the full genome sequence of 102 strains of the virus. Here, we exploited the data to elucidate the evolutionary characteristics and phylodynamics of the virus compared with influenza A and B viruses. Along with our data, we obtained public sequence data of the hemagglutinin-esterase gene of the virus; the dataset consists of 218 unique sequences of the virus collected from 14 countries between 1947 and 2014. Informatics analyses revealed that (1) multiple lineages have been circulating globally; (2) there have been weak and infrequent selective bottlenecks; (3) the evolutionary rate is low because of weak positive selection and a low capability to induce mutations; and (4) there is no significant positive selection although a few mutations affecting its antigenicity have been induced. The unique evolutionary dynamics of the influenza C virus must be shaped by multiple factors, including virological, immunological, and epidemiological characteristics.
Project description:Successful replication within an infected host and successful transmission between hosts are key to the continued spread of most pathogens. Competing selection pressures exerted at these different scales can lead to evolutionary trade-offs between the determinants of fitness within and between hosts. Here, we examine such a trade-off in the context of influenza A viruses and the differential pressures exerted by temperature-dependent virus persistence. For a panel of avian influenza A virus strains, we find evidence for a trade-off between the persistence at high versus low temperatures. Combining a within-host model of influenza infection dynamics with a between-host transmission model, we study how such a trade-off affects virus fitness on the host population level. We show that conclusions regarding overall fitness are affected by the type of link assumed between the within- and between-host levels and the main route of transmission (direct or environmental). The relative importance of virulence and immune response mediated virus clearance are also found to influence the fitness impacts of virus persistence at low versus high temperatures. Based on our results, we predict that if transmission occurs mainly directly and scales linearly with virus load, and virulence or immune responses are negligible, the evolutionary pressure for influenza viruses to evolve toward good persistence at high within-host temperatures dominates. For all other scenarios, influenza viruses with good environmental persistence at low temperatures seem to be favored.
Project description:Avian influenza (AI) viruses of the H7 subtype have the potential to evolve into highly pathogenic (HP) viruses that represent a major economic problem for the poultry industry and a threat to global health. However, the emergence of HPAI viruses from low-pathogenic (LPAI) progenitor viruses currently is poorly understood. To investigate the origin and evolution of one of the most important avian influenza epidemics described in Europe, we investigated the evolutionary and spatial dynamics of the entire genome of 109 H7N1 (46 LPAI and 63 HPAI) viruses collected during Italian H7N1 outbreaks between March 1999 and February 2001. Phylogenetic analysis revealed that the LPAI and HPAI epidemics shared a single ancestor, that the HPAI strains evolved from the LPAI viruses in the absence of reassortment, and that there was a parallel emergence of mutations among HPAI and later LPAI lineages. Notably, an ultradeep-sequencing analysis demonstrated that some of the amino acid changes characterizing the HPAI virus cluster were already present with low frequency within several individual viral populations from the beginning of the LPAI H7N1 epidemic. A Bayesian phylogeographic analysis revealed stronger spatial structure during the LPAI outbreak, reflecting the more rapid spread of the virus following the emergence of HPAI. The data generated in this study provide the most complete evolutionary and phylogeographic analysis of epidemiologically intertwined high- and low-pathogenicity viruses undertaken to date and highlight the importance of implementing prompt eradication measures against LPAI to prevent the appearance of viruses with fitness advantages and unpredictable pathogenic properties.The Italian H7 AI epidemic of 1999 to 2001 was one of the most important AI outbreaks described in Europe. H7 viruses have the ability to evolve into HP forms from LP precursors, although the mechanisms underlying this evolutionary transition are only poorly understood. We combined epidemiological information, whole-genome sequence data, and ultradeep sequencing approaches to provide the most complete characterization of the evolution of HPAI from LPAI viruses undertaken to date. Our analysis revealed that the LPAI viruses were the direct ancestors of the HPAI strains and identified low-frequency minority variants with HPAI mutations that were present in the LPAI samples. Spatial analysis provided key information for the design of effective control strategies for AI at both local and global scales. Overall, this work highlights the importance of implementing rapid eradication measures to prevent the emergence of novel influenza viruses with severe pathogenic properties.
Project description:The diversity of RNA viruses dictates their evolution in a particular host, community or environment. Here, we reported within- and between-host pH1N1virus diversity at consensus and sub-consensus levels over a three-year period (2015-2017) and its implications on disease severity. A total of 90 nasal samples positive for the pH1N1 virus were deep-sequenced and analyzed to detect low-frequency variants (LFVs) and haplotypes. Parallel evolution of LFVs was seen in the hemagglutinin (HA) gene across three scales: among patients (33%), across years (22%), and at global scale. Remarkably, investigating the emergence of LFVs at the consensus level demonstrated that within-host virus evolution recapitulates evolutionary dynamics seen at the global scale. Analysis of virus diversity at the HA haplotype level revealed the clustering of low-frequency haplotypes from early 2015 with dominant strains of 2016, indicating rapid haplotype evolution. Haplotype sharing was also noticed in all years, strongly suggesting haplotype transmission among patients infected during a specific influenza season. Finally, more than half of patients with severe symptoms harbored a larger number of haplotypes, mostly in patients under the age of five. Therefore, patient age, haplotype diversity, and the presence of certain LFVs should be considered when interpreting illness severity. In addition to its importance in understanding virus evolution, sub-consensus virus diversity together with whole genome sequencing is essential to explain variabilities in clinical outcomes that cannot be explained by either analysis alone.
Project description:Since its emergence in 1968, influenza A (H3N2) has evolved extensively in genotype and antigenic phenotype. However, despite strong pressure to evolve away from human immunity and to diversify in antigenic phenotype, H3N2 influenza shows paradoxically limited genetic and antigenic diversity present at any one time. Here, we propose a simple model of antigenic evolution in the influenza virus that accounts for this apparent discrepancy.In this model, antigenic phenotype is represented by a N-dimensional vector, and virus mutations perturb phenotype within this continuous Euclidean space. We implement this model in a large-scale individual-based simulation, and in doing so, we find a remarkable correspondence between model behavior and observed influenza dynamics. This model displays rapid evolution but low standing diversity and simultaneously accounts for the epidemiological, genetic, antigenic, and geographical patterns displayed by the virus. We find that evolution away from existing human immunity results in rapid population turnover in the influenza virus and that this population turnover occurs primarily along a single antigenic axis.Selective dynamics induce a canalized evolutionary trajectory, in which the evolutionary fate of the influenza population is surprisingly repeatable. In the model, the influenza population shows a 1- to 2-year timescale of repeatability, suggesting a window in which evolutionary dynamics could be, in theory, predictable.
Project description:Population structure, spatial diffusion, and climatic conditions mediate the spatiotemporal spread of seasonal influenza in temperate regions. However, much of our knowledge of these dynamics stems from a few well-studied countries, such as the United States (US), and the extent to which this applies in different demographic and climatic environments is not fully understood. Using novel data from Norway, Sweden, and Denmark, we applied wavelet analysis and non-parametric spatial statistics to explore the spatiotemporal dynamics of influenza transmission at regional and international scales. We found the timing and amplitude of epidemics were highly synchronized both within and between countries, despite the geographical isolation of many areas in our study. Within Norway, this synchrony was most strongly modulated by population size, confirming previous findings that hierarchical spread between larger populations underlies seasonal influenza dynamics at regional levels. However, we found no such association when comparing across countries, suggesting that other factors become important at the international scale. Finally, to frame our results within a wider global context, we compared our findings from Norway to those from the US. After correcting for differences in geographic scale, we unexpectedly found higher levels of synchrony in Norway, despite its smaller population size. We hypothesize that this greater synchrony may be driven by more favorable and spatially uniform climatic conditions, although there are other likely factors we were unable to consider (such as reduced variation in school term times and differences in population movements). Overall, our results highlight the importance of comparing influenza spread at different spatial scales and across diverse geographic regions in order to better understand the complex mechanisms underlying disease dynamics.