Analysing the evolutionary history of HCV: puzzle of ancient phylogenetic discordance.
Magiorkinis G., Ntziora F., Paraskevis D., Magiorkinis E., Hatzakis A.
Though recombination is an important evolutionary strategy in RNA viruses, only two cases of HCV recombinant strains have been reported. Our objective was to analyze the evolutionary history of the HCV genotypes aiming to obtain evidence of significant phylogenetic discordance due to either recombination or selective forces leading to convergent/divergent evolution. The data support an evolutionary preservation of the interferon-resistance related genomic region (ISDR) for the genotypes 1 and 4. On the other hand, there was no evidence that recombination has occurred in the past with the possible exception of genotype 4. Moreover, it is evidenced that genotypes 3 and 10 split more recently than genotypes 6-9 and 11. This analysis reverberates a commonly found pattern in rapidly evolving viruses, that is the strongly disturbed evolutionary history which deforms the uniform distribution of the phylogenetic relationships across the genome, and introduces a conservative inference framework for approaching this kind of data.