Caister Academic Press

Viral Mutation Rates

Rafael Sanjuán
from: Virus Evolution: Current Research and Future Directions (Edited by: Scott C. Weaver, Mark Denison, Marilyn Roossinck and Marco Vignuzzi). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2016) Pages: 1-28.


Spontaneous mutations resulting from uncorrected replication errors, edition of the genetic material, or spontaneous nucleic acid damage are the primary source of genetic diversity, and central to the evolutionary process. Viruses show ample variation in their rates of spontaneous mutation. RNA viruses show extremely high rates whereas DNA viruses mutate more slowly, yet still considerably faster than their hosts. This chapter addresses the molecular mechanisms underlying the production of spontaneous mutations in viruses, such as polymerase infidelity, lack of proofreading, avoidance of post-replicative repair, or host-mediated nucleoside deamination. The evolution of viral mutation rates is also addressed, focusing on the association between mutation rates and other basic genomic properties, on how viruses can modify replication fidelity in response to selection, and on the ability of viruses to optimize mutation rates for maximal adaptability. Finally, some implications for pathogenesis, the emergence of drug resistance, and vaccination are discussed read more ...
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