Codon volatility of hemagglutinin genes of H5N1 avian influenza viruses from different clades

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Codon volatility is a method recently developed to estimate selective pressures on proteins on the basis of their synonymous codon usage. Volatility of a codon was defined as the fraction of single nucleotide substitutions that would be nonsynonymous. Higher volatility may indicate that the gene has been under more positive selection in the recent past. We analyzed volatility of hemagglutinin genes of H5N1 viruses in the recent outbreaks and observed differences in the volatility among viruses of different clades. The codon volatility of subclade 2.1 viruses from Indonesia was the lowest among all H5N1 clades and subclades. Time series analyses since the beginning of the epidemic in 2004 showed that codon volatility of subclade 2.1 has gradually decreased, while those of other major clades have been increasing. This may reflect differences in the recent evolution of these viruses.

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