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Study- Phylodynamics of avian influenza clade 2.2.1 H5N1 viruses in Egypt

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  • Study- Phylodynamics of avian influenza clade 2.2.1 H5N1 viruses in Egypt

    Phylodynamics of avian influenza clade 2.2.1 H5N1 viruses in Egypt

    • Abdelsatar ArafaEmail author,
    • Ihab El-Masry,
    • Shereen Kholosy,
    • Mohammed K. Hassan,
    • Gwenaelle Dauphin,
    • Juan Lubroth and
    • Yilma J. MakonnenEmail author

    Virology Journal201613:49
    DOI: 10.1186/s12985-016-0477-7
    ? Arafa et al. 2016

    Received: 4 September 2015
    Accepted: 26 January 2016
    Published: 22 March 2016



    Highly pathogenic avian influenza (HPAI) viruses of the H5N1 subtype are widely distributed within poultry populations in Egypt and have caused multiple human infections. Linking the epidemiological and sequence data is important to understand the transmission, persistence and evolution of the virus. This work describes the phylogenetic dynamics of H5N1 based on molecular characterization of the hemagglutinin (HA) gene of isolates collected from February 2006 to May 2014.


    Full-length HA sequences of 368 H5N1 viruses were generated and were genetically analysed to study their genetic evolution. They were collected from different poultry species, production sectors, and geographic locations in Egypt. The Bayesian Markov Chain Monte Carlo (BMCMC) method was applied to estimate the evolutionary rates among different virus clusters; additionally, an analysis of selection pressures in the HA gene was performed using the Single Likelihood Ancestor Counting (SLAC) method.


    The phylogenetic analysis of the H5 gene from 2006?14 indicated the presence of one virus introduction of the classic clade (2.2.1) from which two main subgroups were originated, the variant subgroup which was further subdivided into 2 sub-divisions ( and and the endemic subgroup ( The clade showed a high evolution rate over a period of 6 years (6.9 ? 10−3 sub/site/year) in comparison to the variant cluster (7.2 ? 10−3 over a period of 4 years). Those two clusters are under positive selection as they possess 5 distinct positively selected sites in the HA gene. The mutations at 120, 154, and 162 HA antigenic sites and the other two mutations (129∆, I151T) that occurred from 2009?14 were found to be stable in the clade. Additionally, 13 groups of H5N1 HPAI viruses were identified based on their amino acid sequences at the cleavage site and ?EKRRKKR? became the dominant pattern beginning in 2013.


    Continuous evolution of H5N1 HPAI viruses in Egypt has been observed in all poultry farming and production systems in almost all regions of the country. The wide circulation of the clade carrying triple mutations (120, 129∆, I151T) associated with increased binding affinity to human receptors is an alarming finding of public health importance...