Send to

Choose Destination
Heredity (Edinb). 2012 Aug;109(2):71-7. doi: 10.1038/hdy.2012.15. Epub 2012 Apr 11.

Magnitude and sign epistasis among deleterious mutations in a positive-sense plant RNA virus.

Author information

Instituto de Biología Molecular y Celular de Plantas, Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-UPV, València, Spain.


How epistatic interactions between mutations determine the genetic architecture of fitness is of central importance in evolution. The study of epistasis is particularly interesting for RNA viruses because of their genomic compactness, lack of genetic redundancy, and apparent low complexity. Moreover, interactions between mutations in viral genomes determine traits such as resistance to antiviral drugs, virulence and host range. In this study we generated 53 Tobacco etch potyvirus genotypes carrying pairs of single-nucleotide substitutions and measured their separated and combined deleterious fitness effects. We found that up to 38% of pairs had significant epistasis for fitness, including both positive and negative deviations from the null hypothesis of multiplicative effects. Interestingly, the sign of epistasis was correlated with viral protein-protein interactions in a model network, being predominantly positive between linked pairs of proteins and negative between unlinked ones. Furthermore, 55% of significant interactions were cases of reciprocal sign epistasis (RSE), indicating that adaptive landscapes for RNA viruses maybe highly rugged. Finally, we found that the magnitude of epistasis correlated negatively with the average effect of mutations. Overall, our results are in good agreement to those previously reported for other viruses and further consolidate the view that positive epistasis is the norm for small and compact genomes that lack genetic robustness.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Nature Publishing Group Icon for PubMed Central
Loading ...
Support Center