Is the #Bombali virus #pathogenic in #humans? (Bioinformatics, abstract)

[Source: US National Library of Medicine, full page: (LINK). Abstract, edited.]

Bioinformatics. 2019 Apr 24. pii: btz267. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btz267. [Epub ahead of print]

Is the Bombali virus pathogenic in humans?

Martell HJ1, Masterson SG1, McGreig JE1, Michaelis M1, Wass MN1.

Author information: 1 Industrial Biotechnology Centre and School of Biosciences, University of Kent, Canterbury, Kent, CT2 7NJ, UK.




The potential of the Bombali virus, a novel Ebolavirus, to cause disease in humans remains unknown. We have previously identified potential determinants of Ebolavirus pathogenicity in humans by analysing the amino acid positions that are differentially conserved (specificity determining positions; SDPs) between human pathogenic Ebolaviruses and the non-pathogenic Reston virus. Here, we include the many Ebolavirus genome sequences that have since become available into our analysis and investigate the amino acid sequence of the Bombali virus proteins at the SDPs that discriminate between human pathogenic and non-human pathogenic Ebolaviruses.


The use of 1408 Ebolavirus genomes (196 in the original analysis) resulted in a set of 166 SDPs (reduced from 180), 146 (88%) of which were retained from the original analysis. This indicates the robustness of our approach and refines the set of SDPs that distinguish human pathogenic Ebolaviruses from Reston virus. At SDPs, Bombali virus shared the majority of amino acids with the human pathogenic Ebolaviruses (63.25%). However, for two SDPs in VP24 (M136L, R139S) that have been proposed to be critical for the lack of Reston virus human pathogenicity because they alter the VP24-karyopherin interaction, the Bombali virus amino acids match those of Reston virus. Thus, Bombali virus may not be pathogenic in humans. Supporting this, no Bombali virus-associated disease outbreaks have been reported, although Bombali virus was isolated from fruit bats cohabitating in close contact with humans, and anti-Ebolavirus antibodies that may indicate contact with Bombali virus have been detected in humans.


Data files are available from


Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

© The Author(s) 2019. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved. For permissions, please e-mail:

PMID: 31093647 DOI: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btz267

Keywords: Ebola; Ebola Bombali Virus.


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Giuseppe Michieli

I am an Italian blogger, active since 2005 with main focus on emerging infectious diseases such as avian influenza, SARS, antibiotics resistance, and many other global Health issues. Other fields of interest are: climate change, global warming, geological and biological sciences. My activity consists mainly in collection and analysis of news, public services updates, confronting sources and making decision about what are the 'signals' of an impending crisis (an outbreak, for example). When a signal is detected, I follow traces during the entire course of an event. I started in 2005 my blog ''A TIME'S MEMORY'', now with more than 40,000 posts and 3 millions of web interactions. Subsequently I added an Italian Language blog, then discontinued because of very low traffic and interest. I contributed for seven years to a public forum ( in the midst of the Ebola epidemic in West Africa in 2014, I left the site to continue alone my data tracking job.