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EMBO J. 1990 Dec;9(12):4181-7.

Frame shift mutations as a novel mechanism for the generation of neutralization resistant mutants of human respiratory syncytial virus.

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Department of Molecular Biology, Centro Nacional de Microbiologia, Madrid, Spain.


The genetic characterization of four previously reported mutants of human respiratory syncytial (RS) virus resistant to monoclonal antibody 63G is described. Sequences of the G protein genes were obtained from: (i) mRNA derived cDNA recombinants, (ii) direct mRNA sequencing and (iii) amplified vRNA derived cDNAs. The results obtained indicate that the original escape mutants, recovered from individual plaques, contained heterogeneous viral populations. This heterogeneity affected the number of adenosine residues present after nucleotides 588 or 623 of the G protein gene. Mutant viruses recovered after a second plaque purification step generated homogeneous sequences but contained single adenosine insertions or deletions at those two sites compared with the Long sequence. These genetic alterations introduced frameshift changes which are reflected in both the antigenic and structural properties of the mutant G proteins. The origin and importance of frameshift mutations in the RS virus G protein gene are discussed.

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