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Hoffmann, R. A wiki for the life sciences where authorship matters. Nature Genetics (2008)

Molecular indetermination in the transition to error catastrophe: systematic elimination of lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus through mutagenesis does not correlate linearly with large increases in mutant spectrum complexity.

Studies with several RNA viruses have shown that enhanced mutagenesis resulted in decreases of infectivity or virus extinction, as predicted from virus entry into error catastrophe. Here we report that lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus, the prototype arenavirus, is extremely susceptible to extinction mutagenesis by the base analog 5-fluorouracil. Virus elimination was preceded by increases in complexity of the mutant spectra of treated populations. However, careful molecular comparison of the mutant spectra of several genomic segments suggests that the largest increases in mutation frequency do not predict virus extinction. Highly mutated viral genomes have escaped detection presumably because lymphocytic choriomeningitis virus replicates at or near the error threshold, and genomes in the transition toward error catastrophe may have an extremely short half-life and escape detection with state-of-the-art cloning and sequencing technologies.[1]


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