The 3' non-coding region (3'NCR) of strains of dengue 1 (DEN 1), DEN 2, DEN 3, and DEN 4 viruses, isolated in different geographical regions, was sequenced and compared to published sequences of the four dengue viruses. A total of 50 DEN 2 strains was compared: 7 West African strains, 3 Indonesian mosquito strains, 1 Indonesian macaque isolate, and 39 human isolates from Southeast Asia, the South Pacific, and the Caribbean and Americas. Nucleotide sequence alignment revealed few deletions and no repeat sequences in the 3' NCR of DEN 2 viruses and showed that much of the 3' NCR was well conserved. The strains could be divided into two groups, sylvatic and human/mosquito/macaque, based on nucleotide sequence homology. A hypervariable region was identified immediately following the NS5 stop codon, which involved a 2-10 nucleotide deletion in human, mosquito, and macaque isolates compared with the sylvatic strains. The DEN 2 3'NCR was also compared with 3'NCR sequences from strains of DEN 1, DEN 3, and DEN 4 viruses. DEN 1 was found to have four copies of an eight nucleotide imperfect repeat following the NS5 stop codon, while DEN 4 virus had a deletion of 75 nucleotides in the 3'NCR. We propose that the variation in nucleotide sequence in the 3'NCR may have evolved as a function of DEN virus transmission and replication in different mosquito and non-human primate/human host cycles. The results from this study are consistent with the hypothesis that DEN viruses arose from sylvatic progenitors and evolved into human epidemic strains. However, the data do not support the hypothesis that variation in the 3'NCR correlates with DEN virus pathogenesis.
Copyright 2001 Academic Press.