Identification of Recombinant Human Rhinovirus A and C in Circulating Strains from Upper and Lower Respiratory Infections
Human rhinoviruses (HRVs), in the Enterovirus genus within the family Picornaviridae, are a highly prevalent cause of acute respiratory infection (ARI). Enteroviruses are genetically highly variable, and recombination between serotypes is known to be a major contribution to their diversity. Recently it was reported that recombination events in HRVs cause the diversity of HRV-C. This study analyzed parts of the viral genes spanning the 5′ non- coding region (NCR) through to the viral protein (VP) encoding sequences of 105 HRV field isolates from 51 outpatient cases of Acute Respiratory Infectious Network (ARINET) and 54 inpatient cases of severe lower respiratory infection (SLRI) surveillance, in order to identify recombination in field samples. When analyzing parts of the 5′NCR and VP4/VP2 encoding sequences, we found intra- and interspecies recombinants in field strains of HRV-A and -C. Nineteen cases of recombination events (18.1%) were found among 105 field strains. For HRV-A, there were five cases (4.8%) of intraspecies recombination events and three cases (2.8%) of interspecies recombination events. For HRV-C, there were four cases (3.8%) of intraspecies recombination events and seven cases (6.7%) of interspecies recombination events. Recombination events were significantly more frequently observed in the ARINET samples (18 cases) than in the SLRI samples (1 case; P< 0.0001). The recombination breakpoints were located in nucleotides (nt) 472–554, which comprise stem-loop 5 in the internal ribosomal entry site (IRES), based on the HRV-B 35 sequence (accession no. FJ445187). Our findings regarding genomic recombination in circulating HRV-A and -C strains suggest that recombination might play a role in HRV fitness and could be a possible determinant of disease severity caused by various HRV infections in patients with ARI.