Researchers from the Carlos III Health Institute (ISCIII) have achieved the first draft of the complete sequence of the monkeypox virus. This massive sequencing work confirms that the West African variety is the cause of this outbreak. Spain has achieved the complete sequencing of the genome by joining 23 samples from 23 patients, the director of the Carlos III Health Institute, Cristóbal Belda, explained this Wednesday: “This allows us to confirm that the virus is of the variant corresponding to West Africa, the least malignant ”. This genome information has been compared with the sequence of a case in Germany and is "identical". “Only five units change,” he added.
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Additionally, sequencing has achieved 100% coverage of the 190,000 base pairs of the genome of this virus, which opens the possibility of more advanced phylogenetic studies that will allow additional information to be obtained on its behavior and a better understanding of its origin, circulation and diffusion. . This is one of the most complete sequences obtained to date.
Sequencing has achieved 100% coverage of the 190,000 base pairs of the genome of this virus
The sequencing carried out through the ISCIII Arbovirus Laboratory, in conjunction with the Genomics and Bioinformatics units of the ISCIII, has had the references published in recent days by other countries (Belgium, Germany, Portugal and the USA), and It has been based on a new generation genomic technology mapped against the reference genome, to which has been added a complementary analysis of the samples through a technique known as de novo assembly. The raw sequences were finished last Monday night and the computational analysis has been carried out in the last 36 hours.
The results indicate that the sequenced samples seem to belong to the same outbreak detected in other European countries, since the genomes obtained hardly differ from those already sequenced in other countries; specifically, the analysis carried out at the ISCIII concludes that there are less than 5 SNPs -genetic sequences called simple nucleotide changes- of difference with respect to the sequencing carried out in Germany.
The sequencing confirms that the monkeypox virus in the outbreak that is taking place in Spain belongs to the West African clade, which is the one with the least virulence among those known and the one that has been identified so far in most of the countries outside of Africa implicated in this outbreak. Clades are phylogenetic groups that define the biological evolution of an organism, explaining how it acts and behaves, and in them the genetic differences of circulating viruses can be observed.
It is confirmed that the monkeypox virus of the outbreak that is taking place in Spain is from the West African clade
After obtaining the complete sequence of the virus, several teams of ISCIII researchers are carrying out phylogenetic analyzes to find out the relationship between the Spanish samples and those from other countries.
The information obtained will be compared to that already known and deposited in international databases to assess the degree of identity and, where appropriate, the location of the differences that may exist between the Spanish sequence and the other international data. All this will make it possible to carry out traceability studies of the outbreak, as well as potentially identify its origin.