Enterovirus 68 (EVD68) causes respiratory illness, mostly in children. Despite a reported low-level of transmission, the occurrence of several recent outbreaks worldwide including the 2014 outbreak in North America has raised concerns regarding the pathogenesis and evolution of EVD68. To elucidate the phylogenetic features of EVD68 and possible causes for the 2014 outbreak, 216 EVD68 strain sequences were retrieved from Genbank, including 22 from the 2014 outbreak. Several geographic and genotypic origins were established for these 22 strains, 19 of which were classified as Clade B. Of these 19 strains, 17 exhibited subsequent clustering and variation in protein residues involved in host-receptor interaction and/or viral antigenicity. Approximately 18 inter-clade variations were detected in VP1, which led to the identification of a new Clade D in EVD68 strains. The classification of this new clade was also verified by the re-construction of a Neighbor-Joining tree during the phylogenetic analysis. In addition, our results indicate that members of Clade B containing highly specific alterations in VP1 protein residues were the foremost contributors to the 2014 outbreak in the US. Altered host-receptor interaction and/or host immune recognition may explain the evolution of EVD68 as well as the global emergence and ongoing adaptation of this virus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas