Author(s): A Sanchez
In late 1994 and early 1995, Ebola (EBO) virus dramatically reemerged in Africa, causing human disease in the Ivory Coast and Zaire. Analysis of the entire glycoprotein genes of these viruses and those of other EBO virus subtypes has shown that the virion glycoprotein (130 kDa) is encoded in two reading frames, which are linked by transcriptional editing. This editing results in the addition of an extra nontemplated adenosine within a run of seven adenosines near the middle of the coding region. The primary gene product is a smaller (50-70 kDa), nonstructural, secreted glycoprotein, which is produced in large amounts and has an unknown function. Phylogenetic analysis indicates that EBO virus subtypes are genetically diverse and that the recent Ivory Coast isolate represents a new (fourth) subtype of EBO virus. In contrast, the EBO virus isolate from the 1995 outbreak in Kikwit, Zaire, is virtually identical to the virus that caused a similar epidemic in Yambuku, Zaire, almost 20 years earlier. This genetic stability may indicate that EBO viruses have coevolved with their natural reservoirs and do not change appreciably in the wild.