Background Human metapneumovirus (HMPV) is an important aetiologic agent of respiratory tract infection (RTI). This study aimed to describe the prevalence, genetic diversity, and evolutionary dynamics of HMPV. Methods Laboratory-confirmed HMPV were characterised based on partial-coding G gene sequences with MEGA.v6.0. WGS was performed with Illumina, and evolutionary analyses with Datamonkey and Nextstrain. Results HMPV prevalence was 2.5%, peaking in February-April and with an alternation in the predominance of HMPV-A and –B until the emergence of SARS-CoV-2, not circulating until summer and autumn-winter 2021, with a higher prevalence and with the almost only circulation of A2c111dup. G and SH proteins were the most variable, and 70% of F protein was under negative selection. Mutation rate of HMPV genome was 6.95 × 10-4 substitutions/site/year. Conclusion HMPV showed a significant morbidity until the emergence of SARS-CoV-2 pandemic in 2020, not circulating again until summer and autumn 2021, with a higher prevalence and with almost the only circulation of A2c111dup, probably due to a more efficient immune evasion mechanism. The F protein showed a very conserved nature, supporting the need for steric shielding. The tMRCA showed a recent emergence of the A2c variants carrying duplications, supporting the importance of virological surveillance.
Epidemiology; Human metapneumovirus; Whole-genome sequencing
Piñana M, González-Sánchez A, Andrés C, Abanto M, Vila J, Esperalba J, et al. The emergence, impact, and evolution of human metapneumovirus variants from 2014 to 2021 in Spain. J Infect. 2023 Aug;87(2):103–10.
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