The rapid spread of monkeypox is unlike the virus’ past outbreaks and may be a result of genetic mutations identified by Department of Biomedical Informatics (DBMI) researchers.
The team compared the genomes of the 2022 virus to monkeypox genomes from a 2017 outbreak in Nigeria, plus sequenced genomes from localized outbreaks in 1965 and 1970. None of the previous monkeypox variants spread beyond their place of origin in Africa.
The DBMI team’s bioninformatics analysis using advanced genomic sequencing methods revealed 25 mutations, 14 of which appear to change protein function and bear further research, said Ussery, a DBMI professor and director of the Arkansas Center for Genomic and Epidemiology Medicine at UAMS.
Co-authors on the publication are:
- Visanu Wanchai, Ph.D., postdoctoral fellow, UAMS College of Medicine Department of Biomedical Informatics
- Trudy Wassenaar, Ph.D., a UAMS genomics consultant and frequent collaborator