Enteroviruses (EV) commonly cause hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), and can also cause potentially fatal neurological and systemic complications. In our laboratory, sequencing 5' untranslated region (UTR) of the viral genome has been the routine method of genotyping EVs. During a recent localised outbreak of aseptic meningitis, sequencing the 5'UTR identified the causative virus as EV-A71, which did not fit with the clinical syndrome or illness severity. When genotyped using a different target gene, VP1, the result was different. This led us to evaluate the accuracy of the two different target genome regions and compare them against whole genome sequencing (WGS). We aimed to optimise the algorithm for detection and characterisation of EVs in the diagnostic laboratory. We hypothesised that VP1 and WGS genotyping would provide different results than 5'UTR in a subset of samples. Clinical samples from around New South Wales which were positive for EV by commercial polymerase chain reaction (PCR) assays were genotyped by targeting three different viral genome regions: the 5'UTR, VP1 and WGS. Sequencing was performed by Sanger and next generation sequencing. The subtyping results were compared. Of the 74/118 (63%) samples that were successfully typed using both the 5'UTR and the VP1 method, the EV typing result was identical for 46/74 (62%) samples compared to WGS as the gold standard. The same EV group but different EV types were found in 22/74 (30%) samples, and 6/74 (8%) samples belonged to different EV groups depending on typing method used. Genotyping with WGS and VP1 is more accurate than 5'UTR. Genotyping by the 5'UTR method is very sensitive, but less specific.
Keywords: Enterovirus; genome sequencing; molecular typing.
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