RNA viruses accumulate mutations to rapidly adapt to environmental changes. Enterovirus A71 (EV-A71) causes various clinical manifestations with occasional severe neurological complications. However, the mechanism by which EV-A71 evolves within the human body is unclear. Utilizing deep sequencing and haplotype analyses of viruses from various tissues of an autopsy patient, we sought to define the evolutionary pathway by which enterovirus A71 evolves fitness for invading the central nervous system in humans. Broad mutant spectra with divergent mutations were observed at the initial infection sites in the respiratory and digestive systems. After viral invasion, we identified a haplotype switch and dominant haplotype, with glycine at VP1 residue 31 (VP1-31G) in viral particles disseminated into the integumentary and central nervous systems. In vitro viral growth and fitness analyses indicated that VP1-31G conferred growth and a fitness advantage in human neuronal cells, whereas VP1-31D conferred enhanced replication in human colorectal cells. A higher proportion of VP1-31G was also found among fatal cases, suggesting that it may facilitate central nervous system infection in humans. Our data provide the first glimpse of EV-A71 quasispecies from oral tissues to the central nervous system within humans, showing broad implications for the surveillance and pathogenesis of this reemerging viral pathogen.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Insect Science