Scientists have demonstrated that the influenza A virus makes use of its error-prone genetic replication to increase diversity, thereby facilitating viral survival under different selection pressures. This research has been published in Nature Communications.
“Influenza virus relies on its own enzymes (RNA polymerase) to copy its genetic information during multiplication. The RNA polymerase is error-prone and makes random errors (mutations) during genome replication,” explained lead author Dr. Yen Hui-ling, assistant professor of School of Public Health at the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
Replication errors lead to the generation of a progeny viral population with minor genetic differences from each other. This genetic diversity is also termed “quasispecies” and it is believed to be an important strategy for RNA viruses to survive under selection pressures, such as host immune responses. However, it has been challenging to provide experimental proof for the role of “quasispecies” in RNA virus survival. This concept was first experimentally demonstrated using poliovirus but has not been studied for influenza virus to date.
Read the full, original story: How influenza uses random errors to survive