New Insights into the HCV Quasispecies and Compartmentalization
ABSTRACT Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a hepatotropic RNA virus with an extraordinary propensity to persist in the vast majority of infected individuals. During replication, because of the inherent infidelity of the viral RNA polymerase, each progeny RNA genome contains mutations that lead to a continuous diversification of the viral population. Consequently, HCV circulates in vivo as a quasispecies, which is a dynamic distribution of divergent but closely related genomes subjected to a continuous process of genetic variation, competition, and selection. This genomic heterogeneity confers a remarkable advantage to the viral population allowing for a rapid adaptation to a changing environment when the virus is subject to selective constraints exerted by the host, such as antiviral immunity, or external to the host, such as antiviral therapy. The large reservoir of variants provided by the quasispecies represents a great challenge for the control of HCV infection and has important biologic implications for viral persistence, host cell tropism, antiviral drug resistance, and development of an HCV vaccine. This review discusses the molecular mechanisms of HCV genetic variation and the biologic and clinical relevance of the quasispecies nature of HCV.
SourceAvailable from: Shuyi Wang[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection is characterized by persistent replication of a complex mixture of viruses termed a “quasispecies.” Transmission is generally associated with a stringent population bottleneck characterized by infection by limited numbers of “transmitted/founder” (T/F) viruses. Characterization of T/F genomes of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) has been integral to studies of transmission, immunopathogenesis, and vaccine development. Here, we describe the identification of complete T/F genomes of HCV by single-genome sequencing of plasma viral RNA from acutely infected subjects. A total of 2,739 single-genome-derived amplicons comprising 10,966,507 bp from 18 acute-phase and 11 chronically infected subjects were analyzed. Acute-phase sequences diversified essentially randomly, except for the poly(U/UC) tract, which was subject to polymerase slippage. Fourteen acute-phase subjects were productively infected by more than one genetically distinct virus, permitting assessment of recombination between replicating genomes. No evidence of recombination was found among 1,589 sequences analyzed. Envelope sequences of T/F genomes lacked transmission signatures that could distinguish them from chronic infection viruses. Among chronically infected subjects, higher nucleotide substitution rates were observed in the poly(U/UC) tract than in envelope hypervariable region 1. Fourteen full-length molecular clones with variable poly(U/UC) sequences corresponding to seven genotype 1a, 1b, 3a, and 4a T/F viruses were generated. Like most unadapted HCV clones, T/F genomes did not replicate efficiently in Huh 7.5 cells, indicating that additional cellular factors or viral adaptations are necessary for in vitro replication. Full-length T/F HCV genomes and their progeny provide unique insights into virus transmission, virus evolution, and virus-host interactions associated with immunopathogenesis.mBio 02/2015; 6(2). DOI:10.1128/mBio.02518-14 · 6.88 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a leading cause of chronic hepatitis and infects approximately three to four million people per year, about 170 million infected people in total, making it one of the major global health problems. In a minority of cases HCV is cleared spontaneously, but in most of the infected individuals infection progresses to a chronic state associated with high risk to develop liver cirrhosis, hepatocellular cancer, or liver failure. The treatment of HCV infection has evolved over the years. Interferon (IFN)-α in combination with ribavirin has been used for decades as standard therapy. More recently, a new standard-of-care treatment has been approved based on a triple combination with either HCV protease inhibitor telaprevir or boceprevir. In addition, various options for all-oral, IFN-free regimens are currently being evaluated. Despite substantial improvement of sustained virological response rates, some intrinsic limitations of these new direct-acting antivirals, including serious side effects, the risk of resistance development and high cost, urge the development of alternative or additional therapeutic strategies. Gene therapy represents a feasible alternative treatment. Small RNA technology, including RNA interference (RNAi) techniques and antisense approaches, is one of the potentially promising ways to investigate viral and host cell factors that are involved in HCV infection and replication. With this, newly developed gene therapy regimens will be provided to treat HCV. In this chapter, a comprehensive overview guides you through the current developments and applications of RNAi and microRNA-based gene therapy strategies in HCV treatment.Advances in Experimental Medicine and Biology 01/2015; 848:1-29. DOI:10.1007/978-1-4939-2432-5_1 · 2.01 Impact Factor
Article: Viral quasispecies.[Show abstract] [Hide abstract]
ABSTRACT: New generation sequencing is greatly expanding the capacity to examine the composition of mutant spectra of viral quasispecies in infected cells and host organisms. Here we review recent progress in the understanding of quasispecies dynamics, notably the occurrence of intra-mutant spectrum interactions, and implications of fitness landscapes for virus adaptation and de-adaptation. Complementation or interference can be established among components of the same mutant spectrum, dependent on the mutational status of the ensemble. Replicative fitness relates to an optimal mutant spectrum that provides the molecular basis for phenotypic flexibility, with implications for antiviral therapy. The biological impact of viral fitness renders particularly relevant the capacity of new generation sequencing to establish viral fitness landscapes. Progress with experimental model systems is becoming an important asset to understand virus behavior in the more complex environments faced during natural infections. Copyright © 2015. Published by Elsevier Inc.Virology 03/2015; DOI:10.1016/j.virol.2015.03.022 · 3.28 Impact Factor