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PLoS Pathog. 2014 Jan;10(1):e1003855. doi: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1003855. Epub 2014 Jan 23.

Variation in RNA virus mutation rates across host cells.

Author information

1
Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Valencia, Spain.
2
Instituto Cavanilles de Biodiversidad y Biología Evolutiva, Valencia, Spain ; Departament de Genètica, Universitat de València, Valencia, Spain.

Abstract

It is well established that RNA viruses exhibit higher rates of spontaneous mutation than DNA viruses and microorganisms. However, their mutation rates vary amply, from 10(-6) to 10(-4) substitutions per nucleotide per round of copying (s/n/r) and the causes of this variability remain poorly understood. In addition to differences in intrinsic fidelity or error correction capability, viral mutation rates may be dependent on host factors. Here, we assessed the effect of the cellular environment on the rate of spontaneous mutation of the vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), which has a broad host range and cell tropism. Luria-Delbrück fluctuation tests and sequencing showed that VSV mutated similarly in baby hamster kidney, murine embryonic fibroblasts, colon cancer, and neuroblastoma cells (approx. 10(-5) s/n/r). Cell immortalization through p53 inactivation and oxygen levels (1-21%) did not have a significant impact on viral replication fidelity. This shows that previously published mutation rates can be considered reliable despite being based on a narrow and artificial set of laboratory conditions. Interestingly, we also found that VSV mutated approximately four times more slowly in various insect cells compared with mammalian cells. This may contribute to explaining the relatively slow evolution of VSV and other arthropod-borne viruses in nature.

PMID:
24465205
PMCID:
PMC3900646
DOI:
10.1371/journal.ppat.1003855
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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