Supplemental materials for: Ebola virus epidemiology, transmission, and evolution during seven months in Sierra Leone

#Extended Experimental Procedures

##Ethical and Safety Approvals

This work has been approved by Institutional Review Boards in Sierra Leone (Sierra Leone Ethics and Scientific Review Committee, SLESRC) and the United States (Harvard Committee on the Use of Human Subjects, CUHS, the CDC’s Human Research Protection Office, HSPO). As part of the EVD outbreak response and surveillance efforts, residual human clinical samples were collected under a waiver of consent granted by SLESRC and CUHS, and the EBOV sequencing work has received non-human subjects research determination by CUHS and HSPO. The Sierra Leone Ministry of Health and Sanitation approved shipment of non-infectious, inactivated samples collected from EVD patients to Broad Institute and Harvard University for viral sequencing. The EBOV-related research and laboratory safety protocols are registered with the Committee of Microbiological Safety (COMS) at Harvard University, and the viral sequencing work is registered with the Institutional Biosafety Committee at Broad Institute. All work with infectious or potentially infectious material was performed at the CDC Viral Special Pathogens Branch in Atlanta, GA, under biosafety level 4 (BSL-4) conditions. Our work was not deemed to be dual-use research of concern.

##Ebola Virus Makona Genome Assembly and Analysis

The viral assembly pipeline began by depleting paired-end reads from each sample of human and other contaminants using best match tagger (BMTagger) (Kirill Rotmistrovsky, Richa Agarwala, BMTagger: Best Match Tagger for removing human reads from metagenomics datasets, 2011. and the nucleotide basic local alignment search tool (BLASTN) (Altschul et al., 1990). PCR duplicates were removed using a custom modification to Vicuna, M-Vicuna (a custom modification to Vicuna, Yang et al., 2012). The resulting "de-identified" metagenomic datasets were deposited in sequence read archive (SRA, BioProject IDs PRJNA257197 and PRJNA283385). Next, reads were filtered to all members of the Ebolavirus genus (all ebolaviruses including EBOV) using LASTAL (Kiełbasa et al., 2011), quality-trimmed with Trimmomatic (Bolger et al., 2014), and further de-duplicated with PRINSEQ (Schmieder et al., 2011).

The filtered and trimmed reads were subsampled to 100,000 pairs, if available, and de novo assembled using Trinity (Grabherr et al., 2011). Subsequently, reference-assisted assembly improvements (contig scaffolding, gap-filling, etc.) were performed with the Viral Finishing and Annotation Toolkit (V-FAT,, which relies on MOSAIK (Lee et al., 2014) and multiple sequence comparison by log expectation (MUSCLE) (Edgar, 2004). Each sample's reads were aligned to its de novo assembly using Novoalign (, and any remaining duplicates were removed using Picard with MarkDuplicates command ( Variant positions in each assembly were identified using genome analysis toolkit (GATK, McKenna et al., 2010) insertions and deletions realinger (IndelRealigner) and UnifiedGenotyper (DePristo 2011, Van der Auwera 2013) on the read alignments. The assembly was refined to represent the major allele at each variant site, and any positions supported by fewer than three reads were changed to N (4-way ambiguity). This align-call-refine cycle was iterated twice, to minimize reference bias in the assembly.

Intrahost variants (iSNVs) were called from each sample's read alignments using V-Phaser2 (Yang et al., 2013) and subjected to an initial set of filters: variant calls with fewer than five forward or reverse reads or more than a 10-fold strand bias were eliminated. iSNVs were also removed if there was more than a 5-fold difference between the strand bias of the variant call and the strand bias of the reference call. Variant calls that passed these filters were additionally subjected to a 0.5% frequency filter. The final list of iSNVs contains only variant calls that passed all filters in two separate library preparations. Annotated iSNV calls are available in variant call format (VCF) and tabular formats (Data S1). These files infer 100% allele frequencies for all samples at an iSNV position without intrahost variation within the sample, but a clear consensus call during assembly. Annotations were computed with the effect of single nucleotide polymorphisms (SnpEff) program (Cingolani et al., 2012).

Our Linux-based software pipeline is publicly available at (Park et al., 2015). This pipeline includes command-line tools for each of the above steps and optional Snakemake workflows (Koster et al., 2012) to automate them either sequentially or in parallel. Most of the third-party tools used are either included or can be downloaded and installed automatically, except for GATK and Novoalign, which must be provided by the user due to licensing restrictions.

Molecular Evolution

Synonymous and nonsynonymous counts were mapped onto the molecular phylogenies using robust counting (O’Brien et al., 2009; Lemey et al., 2012) by specifying independent Hasegawa, Kishno, Yano (HKY) nucleotide substitution models (Hasegawa et al., 1985) for all 3 codon-position partitions. Substitutions in intergenic regions were modeled according to HKY with \(\Gamma_{4}\)-distributed rate heterogeneity (Hasegawa et al., 1985; Yang, 1994). A relaxed molecular clock with log-normal rate distribution categories (Drummond et al., 2006) and a non-parametric Bayesian skygrid (Gill et al., 2012) tree prior were used. A reference prior (Ferreira et al., 2008) was used on the molecular clock.

We estimated the ratio of nonsynonymous substitutions over synonymous substitutions, \(d_N/d_S\) or \(\omega\) in every gene of EBOV (NP, VP35, VP40, VP30, VP24 and L), using an implementation of the Goldman et al. (1994) codon model in BEAST (Drummond et al., 2012). We used the same sequences as the analysis above, but excluded sequences of potentially lower quality, resulting in 314 EBOV Makona genomes. GP-gene coding sequences were split into the mucin-like domain (GP1\(_{MLD}\)), which encompasses amino acid residues 313-464 (Lee et al., 2008) starting from methionine of GP1, and the rest of GP1,2 (GP\(_{\Delta MLD}\)). This split is due due to concern that the GP\(_{MLD}\) is highly disorganized (Lee et al., 2009) and thus is under little constraint at the amino acid level. To date, only linear epitopes in GP\(_{MLD}\) are known to be targeted by antibodies (Olal et al., 2012), due to its extensive O-, and N-linked glycosylation. We employed independent codon models for all 8 partitions, parameterized with independent strict molecular clocks. A reference prior (Ferreira et al., 2008) was used on the evolutionary rate. Substitutions in the ninth partition, with concatenated noncoding intergenic regions, was modeled using the HKY+\(\Gamma_{4}\) (Hasegawa et al., 1985; Yang, 1994) model. The non-parametric Bayesian skygrid was used as the tree prior (Gill et al., 2012) for both long-term and current datasets.

All BEAST analyses (inputs, outputs, scripts) are made available (Data S2).

#Supplemental Figures

Figure S1 - Phylogenetic and Temporal Context of Recent Tong, et al Samples. (A) 175 recently published Ebola virus Makona samples from Sierra Leone (Tong et al., 2015) describe lineages that fall within the genetic diversity of our current data set (MCC tree from BEAST, as in Figure 1). (B) They span a two month period (Sep 28 to Nov 11, 2014) that falls within the temporal sampling of our current data and shows a consistent evolutionary rate. Related to Figure 1.

Figure S2 - Tracing Historical Ebola Virus Makona Migrations from East to West. Related to Figure 1. (A) Nine Ebola virus (EBOV) Makona genomes (right-hand most circles) from the Freetown area with four groups of apparently ancestral EBOV genomes (middle circles)). Groups of genetically identical genomes (circles) are related to each other by simple vertical relationships (arrows). Solid circles are shown on the date of the earliest sample in the group; the circle area is proportional to the number of samples containing viruses with that genome; arrows represent a set of non-homoplasic SNPs and point from ancestral to derived alleles. Here, "SL3" and "SL4" do not refer to entire clades, but to the viruses that exactly match the canonical SL3 and SL4 genomes with no further mutations. (B) Geographic mapping of one epidemiological route that may account for four of the nine Freetown viruses shown in (A). Groups of identical viruses are shown at their first observed location.

Figure S3 - Ebola Virus Makona Intrahost Single-Nucleotide Variants (iSNVs). Related to Figure 2. (A) Distribution of the number of iSNVs per sample. Replicate sequencing and iSNV calling was completed for 150 samples, of which 65 had no iSNV calls. Mean iSNVs per sample (including samples without iSNVs) = 2.04; mean iSNVs per sample (among samples with iSNVs) = 3.6. (B) Sample coverage by date shows the temporal distribution of samples containing Ebola virus (EBOV) genomes with and without iSNV calls. As expected, samples with iSNV calls have generally higher coverage. (C) Intermediate-frequency variants can persist over time with minimal genetic drift, as demonstrated by the iSNV at position 18,911. The existence of intermediate frequency (10–30%) iSNVs in many different samples over time provides an argument against recurring mutations and may suggest a relatively wide transmission bottleneck between patients.

Figure S4 - Increased Sampling Improves Evolutionary Rate Estimates. Related to Figure 3. Rate estimates in the recent data set (Figure 3A) have much tighter credible intervals due to the significantly greater amount of time (total coalescent branch length) compared to the initial outbreak.

#Supplemental Tables

  • Table S1. Sample Metadata and Performance. Related to Experimental Procedures.
  • Table S2. Target Erosion. Assessment of current mutations on therapeutics and diagnostics. Related to Figure 4.

#Supplemental Data Files

  • Data S1. Intrahost Data. Related to Experimental Procedures.
  • Data S2. Interhost Data. Related to Experimental Procedures.


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