Recently Identified Mutations in the Ebola Virus-Makona Genome Do Not Alter Pathogenicity in Animal Models

Andrea Marzi, Spencer Chadinah, Elaine Haddock, Friederike Feldmann, Nicolette Arndt, Cynthia Martellaro, Dana P. Scott, Patrick W. Hanley, Tolbert G. Nyenswah, Samba Sow, Moses Massaquoi, Heinz Feldmann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

25 Scopus citations


Ebola virus (EBOV), isolate Makona, the causative agent of the West African EBOV epidemic, has been the subject of numerous investigations to determine the genetic diversity and its potential implication for virus biology, pathogenicity, and transmissibility. Despite various mutations that have emerged over time through multiple human-to-human transmission chains, their biological relevance remains questionable. Recently, mutations in the glycoprotein GP and polymerase L, which emerged and stabilized early during the outbreak, have been associated with improved viral fitness in cell culture. Here, we infected mice and rhesus macaques with EBOV-Makona isolates carrying or lacking those mutations. Surprisingly, all isolates behaved very similarly independent of the genotype, causing severe or lethal disease in mice and macaques, respectively. Likewise, we could not detect any evidence for differences in virus shedding. Thus, no specific biological phenotype could be associated with these EBOV-Makona mutations in two animal models. Marzi et al. demonstrate that recently identified mutations in the EBOV-Makona genome, which appeared during the West African epidemic, do not significantly alter pathogenicity in IFNAR−/− mice and rhesus macaques. Other factors may have been more important for increased case numbers, case fatalities, and human-to-human transmission during this unprecedented epidemic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1806-1816
Number of pages11
JournalCell Reports
Issue number6
StatePublished - May 8 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Ebola Makona
  • Ebola virus
  • GP mutation A82V
  • L mutation D759G
  • West African epidemic
  • glycoprotein GP
  • pathogenicity
  • polymerase L

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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