Quasispecies theory has been instrumental in the understanding of RNA virus population dynamics because it considered for the first time mutation as an integral part of the replication process. The key influences of quasispecies theory on experimental virology have been: (1) to disclose the mutant spectrum nature of viral populations and to evaluate its consequences; (2) to unveil collective properties of genome ensembles that can render a mutant spectrum a unit of selection; and (3) to identify new vulnerability points of pathogenic RNA viruses on three fronts: the need to apply multiple selective constraints (in the form of drug combinations) to minimize selection of treatment-escape variants, to translate the error threshold concept into antiviral designs, and to construct attenuated vaccine viruses through alterations of viral polymerase copying fidelity or through displacements of viral genomes towards unfavorable regions of sequence space. These three major influences on the understanding of viral pathogens preceded extensions of quasispecies to non-viral systems such as bacterial and tumor cell collectivities and prions. These developments are summarized here.
European Biophysics Journal – Springer Journals
Published: Feb 3, 2018
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