Evolutionary trajectory of the VP1 gene of human enterovirus 71 genogroup B and C viruses
From 1963 to 1986, human enterovirus 71 (HEV71) infections in the Netherlands were successively caused by viruses of subgenogroups B0, B1 and B2. A genogroup shift occurred in 1987, after which viruses of subgenogroups C1 and C2 were detected exclusively. This is in line with HEV71 typing in Australia, Europe and the USA, but is distinct from that in the Asian Pacific region, where HEV71 subgenogroups B3-B5 and C4-C5 have caused large outbreaks since 1997. To understand these observations in HEV71 epidemiology, the VP1-encoding regions of 199 HEV71 strains isolated in the Netherlands between 1963 and 2008 were used to study the detailed evolutionary trajectory and population dynamics of HEV71. Genogroup B viruses showed an epochal evolution, whereas genogroup C viruses evolved independently, which is in line with the co-circulation of C1 and C2 viruses in the Netherlands since 1997. Considering that strains from the Netherlands are interspersed phylogenetically with GenBank reference strains, the evolution of B1-B2, C1-C2 viruses has a global nature. Phylodynamic analysis confirmed that increased reporting of HEV71 infections in 1986 and 2007 reflected true epidemics of B2 and C2 viruses, respectively. Sequence analysis of the complete capsid region of a subset of isolates revealed several (sub)genogroup-specific residues. Subgenogroup B2-specific rabbit antiserum showed cross-neutralization of B0, B1 and B2 viruses, but not of subgenogroup C1 or C2 viruses, probably explaining the global shift to genogroup C in 1987 following a B2 epidemic. Anti-C1 rabbit serum neutralized both genogroup B and C viruses. Global herd immunity against C1 and C2 viruses possibly explains why epidemics with subgenogroups B4 and C4 are restricted to the Asian Pacific region.