The goal of the sequencing project is to identify themolecular basis of adenovirus evolution, including base changes and genomerecombination, and to understand the genome basis for adenovirus pathogenicityand its role in the genesis of emergent pathogens.
Human adenoviruses (HAdVs), first isolated in 1953, are DNAviruses that were initially identified as respiratory pathogens but are nowknown to cause a range of diseases, including ocular, gastrointestinal andmetabolic disorders. Respiratory adenoviruses typically generate cold-likesymptoms that can spread broadly and rapidly among a population, but normallypose low levels of fatalities.
Since 1953, 67 new types of HAdVs have been isolated.Extensive genome sequence data from both newly isolated and archived HAdVs, andtheir accompanying bioinformatics, are leading to an in-depth understanding ofthe biology of HAdVs, including how novel viral pathogens appear.
Genome recombination plays an important role in themolecular evolution of HAdVs, leading to newly emerging strains as well asre-emerging pathogens that have changed or become more virulent. As an example,a recent outbreak of respiratory infections in China raised public concerns andunfounded rumors of a SARS outbreak, but genomic analysis definitivelyidentified the outbreak as a respiratory tract infection caused by adenovirustype 55. An outbreak of Ad55 was identified earlier in China in 2006 andgenomic analysis of this recent Ad55 virus revealed only 12 mutations from the2006 strain, indicating they are from the same lineage.
"We welcome this opportunity to work with this consortiumand its global collaborators on the sequencing of 100 human adenoviruses,"stated Yingrui Li, vice director of BGI. "By applying BGI's state-of-the-artwhole genome sequencing and analysis to these HAdVs, we believe we will make asignificant contribution to identifying the evolution of adenovirus mutationsand recombination, and to an increased understanding of the genomic basis oftheir disease effects in humans."
Included among the investigators are scientists working atthe School of Systems Biology at GMU, the Department of Ophthalmology at Mass.Eye and Ear and the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at OUHSC.
"While genome mutations and recombination of DNA viruseslike HAdVs are less common than observed for RNA viruses, when they do occur,the resultant virus may be a new and different pathogen," stated Dr. DonaldSeto, a professor in the School of Systems Biology at GMU. "With whole genomesequencing provided by BGI, we will be able to answer how these viruses changeover time, including how fast, enabling researchers to identify emergingpathogens, develop effective treatments, including vaccines, and begin tounderstand how to predict pathogens."
All intellectual property resulting from the project will beshared by the collaborators. Upon completion of the sequencing and analysis ofthe 100 HAdVs, the findings will be co-authored by all in a paper to bepublished in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.