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Virology. 2003 Jul 5;311(2):339-49.

Curing of foot-and-mouth disease virus from persistently infected cells by ribavirin involves enhanced mutagenesis.

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Centro de Biología Molecular Severo Ochoa (CSIC-UAM), Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Cantoblanco, 28049 Madrid, Spain.


BHK-21 cells persistently infected with foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) can be cured of virus by treatment with the antiviral nucleoside analogue ribavirin. To study whether the process involved an increase in the number of mutations in the mutant spectrum of the viral population, viral genomes were cloned from persistently infected cells treated or untreated with ribavirin. An increase of up to 10-fold in mutation frequencies associated with ribavirin treatment was observed in the viral genomes from the treated cultures as compared with parallel, untreated cultures. To address the possible mechanisms of enhanced mutagenesis, we investigated the mutagenic effects of ribavirin together with guanosine, and mycophenolic acid in the presence or absence of guanosine. Changes in the intracellular nucleotide concentrations were determined for all treatments. The results suggest that the increased mutation frequencies were not dependent on nucleotide pool imbalances or due to selection of preexisting genomes but they were produced by a mutagenic action of ribavirin.

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