Characterizing the Zika virus genome - A bioinformatics study
Basak, Subhash C
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The recent epidemic of Zika virus infections in South and Latin America have raised serious concern on its ramifications for the population in the Americas and spread of the virus worldwide. The Zika virus disease is a relatively new phenomenon for which sufficient and comprehensive data and investigative reports have not been available to date. We have done a bioinformatics study of the available genomic sequences of the Zika viruses and characterize the virus in terms of various biological properties of interest like phylogenetic relationships, transition-transversion ratios, amino acid usage, codon usage bias and hydropathy index. We also show the remarkable differences in base distributions of the African and non-African genomes in a 2D graphical representation and compute sequence parameters and descriptors that highlight the marked differences that characterize the sequences of the two groups. These findings are important for computer-assisted approaches towards surveillance and consequent design of drugs and vaccines to combat the growth and spread of the Zika virus.