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Human parechoviruses (HPeVs) are highly prevalent pathogens among very young children. Although originally classified into two serologically distinct types, HPeV1 and -2, recent analyses of variants collected worldwide have revealed the existence of 12 further types classified genetically by sequence comparisons of complete genome sequences or the capsid (VP1) gene. To investigate the nature of HPeV evolution, its population dynamics and recombination breakpoints, this study generated 18 full-length genomic sequences of the most commonly circulating genotypes, HPeV1 and -3, collected over a time span of 14 years from The Netherlands. By inclusion of previously published full-length sequences, 35 sequences were analysed in total. Analysis of contemporary strains of HPeV1 and those most similar to the prototype strain (Harris) showed that HPeV1 variants fall into two genetically distinct clusters that are much more divergent from each other than those observed within other HPeV types. Future classification criteria for HPeVs may require modification to accommodate the occurrence of variants with intermediate degrees of diversity within types. Recombination was frequently observed among HPeV1, -4, -5 and -6, but was much more restricted among HPeV3 strains. Favoured sites for recombination were found to flank the capsid region, and further sites were found within the non-structural region, P2. In contrast to other HPeV types, the majority of the HPeV3 sequences remained monophyletic across the genome, a possible reflection of its lower diversity and potentially more recent emergence than other HPeV types, or biological and/or epidemiological constraints that limit opportunities for co-infections with potential recombination partners.

Original publication




Journal article


J Gen Virol

Publication Date





145 - 154


Cluster Analysis, Genetic Variation, Genome, Viral, Genotype, Humans, Molecular Sequence Data, Netherlands, Parechovirus, Phylogeny, Picornaviridae Infections, RNA, Viral, Recombination, Genetic, Sequence Analysis