The transient upsurge of G2P group A rotavirus (RVA) after Rotarix vaccine introduction in several countries has been a matter of concern. To gain insight into the diversity and evolution of G2P strains in South Africa pre-and post-RVA vaccination introduction, whole-genome sequencing was performed for RVA positive faecal specimens collected between 2003 and 2017 and samples previously sequenced were obtained from GenBank (n=103; 56 pre-and 47 post-vaccine). Pre-vaccine G2 sequences predominantly clustered within sub-lineage IVa-1. In contrast, post-vaccine G2 sequences clustered mainly within sub-lineage IVa-3, whereby a radical amino acid (AA) substitution, S15F, was observed between the two sub-lineages. Pre-vaccine P sequences predominantly segregated within sub-lineage IVa while post-vaccine sequences clustered mostly within sub-lineage IVb, with a radical AA substitution R162G. Both S15F and R162G occurred outside recognised antigenic sites. The AA residue at position 15 is found within the signal sequence domain of Viral Protein 7 (VP7) involved in translocation of VP7 into endoplasmic reticulum during infection process. The 162 AA residue lies within the hemagglutination domain of Viral Protein 4 (VP4) engaged in interaction with sialic acid-containing structure during attachment to the target cell. Free energy change analysis on VP7 indicated accumulation of stable point mutations in both antigenic and non-antigenic regions. The segregation of South African G2P strains into pre-and post-vaccination sub-lineages is likely due to erstwhile hypothesized stepwise lineage/sub-lineage evolution of G2P strains rather than RVA vaccine introduction. Our findings reinforce the need for continuous whole-genome RVA surveillance and investigation of contribution of AA substitutions in understanding the dynamic G2P epidemiology.
- G2P group A rotavirus strains
- whole-genome analysis