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Gene. 1985;40(1):1-8.

The quasispecies (extremely heterogeneous) nature of viral RNA genome populations: biological relevance--a review.


We review evidence that cloned (or uncloned) populations of most RNA viruses do not consist of a single genome species of defined sequence, but rather of heterogeneous mixtures of related genomes (quasispecies). Due to very high mutation rates, genomes of a quasispecies virus population share a consensus sequence but differ from each other and from the consensus sequence by one, several, or many mutations. Viral genome analyses by sequencing, fingerprinting, cDNA cloning etc. indicate that most viral RNA populations (quasispecies) contain all possible single and double genomic site mutations and varying proportions of triple, quadruple, etc. site mutations. This quasispecies structure of RNA virus populations has many important theoretical and practical implications because mutations at only one or a few sites may alter the phenotype of an RNA virus.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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