Author(s): Domingo E, Domingo E
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Abstract RNA virus populations consist of complex and dynamic mutant distributions, rather than defined genomic sequences. This feature confers great adaptability on viruses and is partly responsible for current difficulties of viral disease prevention and control. Mutant distributions, also termed mutant swarms or mutant clouds, were first proposed in a theory of molecular evolution termed quasispecies theory. The theoretical formulation of quasispecies and its links to present day RNA viruses are discussed. The need to accommodate antiviral strategies to the dynamic nature of viral populations is emphasized. In particular, recent results on viral extinction associated with enhanced mutagenesis (virus entry into error catastrophe) are reviewed and presented as an example of how the understanding of viruses as quasispecies could lead to a potential practical application in medicine.
This article was published in Prog Drug Res
and referenced in HIV: Current Research