Rotavirus is the leading global cause of diarrheal mortality for unvaccinated children under 5 years of age. The outer capsid of rotavirus virions consists of VP7 and VP4 proteins, which determine viral G and P types, respectively, and are primary targets of neutralizing antibodies. Successful vaccination depends upon generating broadly protective immune responses following exposure to rotaviruses presenting a limited number of G- and P-type antigens. Vaccine introduction resulted in decreased rotavirus disease burden but also coincided with the emergence of uncommon G and P genotypes, including G12. To gain insight into the recent predominance of G12P rotaviruses in the United States, we evaluated 142 complete rotavirus genome sequences and metadata from 151 clinical specimens collected in Nashville, TN, from 2011 to 2013 through the New Vaccine Surveillance Network. Circulating G12P strains were found to share many segments with other locally circulating strains but to have distinct constellations. Phylogenetic analyses of G12 sequences and their geographic sources provided evidence for multiple separate introductions of G12 segments into Nashville, TN. Antigenic epitopes of VP7 proteins of G12P strains circulating in Nashville, TN, differ markedly from those of vaccine strains. Fully vaccinated children were found to be infected with G12P strains more frequently than with other rotavirus genotypes. Multiple introductions and significant antigenic mismatch may in part explain the recent predominance of G12P strains in the United States and emphasize the need for continued monitoring of rotavirus vaccine efficacy against emerging rotavirus genotypes. Rotavirus is an important cause of childhood diarrheal disease worldwide. Two immunodominant proteins of rotavirus, VP7 and VP4, determine G and P genotypes, respectively. Recently, G12P rotaviruses have become increasingly predominant. By analyzing rotavirus genome sequences from stool specimens obtained in Nashville, TN, from 2011 to 2013 and globally circulating rotaviruses, we found evidence of multiple introductions of G12 genes into the area. Based on sequence polymorphisms, VP7 proteins of these viruses are predicted to present themselves to the immune system very differently than those of vaccine strains. Many of the sick children with G12P rotavirus in their diarrheal stools also were fully vaccinated. Our findings emphasize the need for continued monitoring of circulating rotaviruses and the effectiveness of the vaccines against strains with emerging G and P genotypes.
Copyright © 2018 American Society for Microbiology.