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Wednesday 26th October 2016

Subtle genetic changes found in dengue virus

14th February 2013

Scientists have made a breakthrough which could lead to a better understanding of the dominant dengue virus strain in southern India.


They have found subtle genetic changes in the strain which they believe could be crucial to understanding disease severity.

Of the four strains of the dengue virus, DENV 3 has dominated recent outbreaks in the Indian sub-continent.

The genetic material of viruses belonging to each strain is not totally identical and minor variations can be traced to a common ‘lineage’.

Writing in Virology Journal, the team from the Rajiv Gandhi Centre for Biotechnology (RGCB) in Thiruvananthapuram, say that minor changes in the genetic material from one lineage can result in resemblance to viruses from another with such ‘lineage shifts’ linked to “dramatic increases” in dengue severity in many parts of the world.

The team compared the data with other Indian and global studies and reported a lineage shift (from lineage III to lineage IV) for the first time.

Easwaran Sreekumar, from the viral disease biology programme at the RGCB explained that lineage shift is reflected in changes to virus functions, such as increased or decreased virus multiplication, which can impact on the spread of the virus or the number of people infected.

S. Swaminathan, staff research scientist at the recombinant gene products group at the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, New Delhi, said the RGCB study would be a step towards understanding the implications of the lineage shift, such as whether the new lineage causes more severe disease or is transmitted more by dengue mosquitoes.


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