7.4 Guidelines for reporting a new measles genotype and use of data from MeaNS

Mick Mulders

The ongoing global efforts to eliminate measles together with expanded virus surveillance suggest that few new measles genotypes remain to be identified. Rather, it is expected that most sequence variants would fall within existing phylogenetic lineages. Therefore, designation of a new measles genotype must be based upon phylogenetic analysis of the complete measles sequence dataset and meet all of the following criteria:

  • Sequences must be obtained from at least N-450 and the entire protein coding region of the H gene
  • The new genotype must be based on sequences obtained from multiple cases and at least one viral isolate is available as a reference strain
  • The genotype designation must be epidemiologically useful in that it can facilitate the identification of a source of infection, transmission pathway or characterize endemic transmission in a region or country
  • Phylogenetic analyses must be performed using all of the available sequence data for N-450 and H such that the diversity within existing genotypes is captured, rather than phylogenies using reference sequences only
  • The ancestral node of the putative genotype should fall within the range of genotype ancestral nodes defined by other genotypes within the same clade. The putative genotype must not form a cluster that has its ancestral node placed within sequences from an existing genotype
  • The branch defining the putative genotype must be supported by high bootstrap values (>90%). Tree topologies generated by both N-450 and H phylogenies should be broadly concordant

All supporting evidence for a putative new genotype should be shared with WHO and the MeaNS and RubeNS Steering Committee*.

*The MeaNS and RubeNS Steering Committee (SC) provides overall governance of MeaNS and RubeNS. The SC works with WHO and the technical team at Public Health England to discuss methods to improve the functionality and accessibility of MeaNS and RubeNS. The SC provides input into the terms and conditions for access to MeaNS and RubeNS and controls access to the data. The SC members are from WHO GSLs and RRLs, representing each WHO region.

Use of data in MeaNS for publications

Any publications using data provided from MeaNS should cite the database as directed on the website. In addition, apart from sequences that are in the public domain (i.e., submitted to GenBank) permission should be sought from the individual submitters of all the sequences and strains that are referred to in the planned publication. The following text box provides additional guidelines for compliance with this important aspect of utilizing genetic data.

The use of data derived from MeaNS in a published article must comply with stipulations regarding the use of that data. Failure to do so may result in loss of access to the MeaNS database. The information below addresses three similar, yet separate circumstances, that may require one or more actions prior to submission of the article for publication.

  • Reference is made only to sequence data from your laboratory in your draft article for publication. MeaNS should be cited in both the text and the reference section of your paper using the citation on the home page: http://www.who-measles.org and thereafter. It is also advisable to contact the WHO regional laboratory coordinator to ensure that the data usage is appropriate.
    For example, MeaNS may be cited using the following publication:
    Rota PA et al. Global distribution of measles genotypes and measles molecular epidemiology. J. Infect. Dis. 2011 Jul;204 Suppl 1:S514-23.
  • In the draft article for publication, it is stated that your sequences are identical to a WHO ‘named strain’. In addition to the instructions above, the GenBank accession number assigned to that named strain must be included.
  • In the draft article for publication, there is a comparison or conclusions made regarding sequences reported by other submitters /countries to MeaNS. In addition to the first requirement (always) and the second instance (when appropriate), the authorization of MeaNS submitters of sequences must be acquired prior to publication when their sequences are compared. Such authorization should be documented in the acknowledgment section of the paper. For example, if a statement such as, "identical sequences have been reported by X, Y, and Z authors /countries" is in the manuscript, you must get authorization of X, Y, and Z submitters prior to submission of the draft and acknowledge them (with reference to “submitters X, Y, Z”) in the Acknowledgment section.