Send to

Choose Destination
Infect Genet Evol. 2005 Oct;5(4):366-74.

Invariant aphthovirus consensus nucleotide sequence in the transition to error catastrophe.

Author information

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


RNA viruses replicate as complex distributions of non-identical but closely related variant genomes termed viral quasispecies. When the error rate during genome replication exceeds a threshold value, the genetic information cannot be maintained and the system enters error catastrophe. This violation of the error threshold results in virus extinction and it is currently being investigated as a new antiviral strategy, based on antiviral activity of some mutagenic agents. Previous studies with the important animal pathogen foot-and-mouth disease virus (FMDV) have shown that FMDV entry into error catastrophe is associated with an increase of complexity (mutation frequency and Shannon entropy) of the mutant spectrum of the quasispecies and that mutated, pre-extinction RNA interferes with the infectivity of standard RNA. Here, we report that despite the increase of complexity, the genomic consensus nucleotide sequence of pre-extinction FMDV RNA remains invariant, and that the fitness of pre-extinction FMDV is at least six-fold lower than the fitness of the parental viral clone, prior to mutagenic treatments. Thus, a low fitness genome ensemble can suppress replication of high fitness virus. Furthermore, the results show that profound genetic modifications associated with fitness decrease of a virus population can take place without any manifestation in the consensus genomic sequence. Thus, increase in mutant spectrum complexity and invariance of the consensus sequence characterizes FMDV extinction through error catastrophe.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center