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Philos Trans R Soc Lond B Biol Sci. 2010 Jun 27;365(1548):1975-82. doi: 10.1098/rstb.2010.0063.

Mutational fitness effects in RNA and single-stranded DNA viruses: common patterns revealed by site-directed mutagenesis studies.

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  • 1Institut Cavanilles de Biodiversitat i Biologia Evolutiva and Departamento de Genética, Universitat de València, C/Catedrático Agustín Escardino 9, Valencia 46980, Spain. rafael.sanjuan@uv.es

Abstract

The fitness effects of mutations are central to evolution, yet have begun to be characterized in detail only recently. Site-directed mutagenesis is a powerful tool for achieving this goal, which is particularly suited for viruses because of their small genomes. Here, I discuss the evolutionary relevance of mutational fitness effects and critically review previous site-directed mutagenesis studies. The effects of single-nucleotide substitutions are standardized and compared for five RNA or single-stranded DNA viruses infecting bacteria, plants or animals. All viruses examined show very low tolerance to mutation when compared with cellular organisms. Moreover, for non-lethal mutations, the mean fitness reduction caused by single mutations is remarkably constant (0.10-0.13), whereas the fraction of lethals varies only modestly (0.20-0.41). Other summary statistics are provided. These generalizations about the distribution of mutational fitness effects can help us to better understand the evolution of RNA and single-stranded DNA viruses.

PMID:
20478892
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC2880115
Free PMC Article
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