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2024-7-13 13:57:39

Martin MA, Berg N, Koelle K. Influenza A genomic diversity during human infections underscores the strength of genetic drift and the existence of tight transmission bottlenecks. Virus Evol. 2024 Jun 1;10(1):veae042
submited by kickingbird at Jun, 18, 2024 8:42 AM from Virus Evol. 2024 Jun 1;10(1):veae042

Influenza infections result in considerable public health and economic impacts each year. One of the contributing factors to the high annual incidence of human influenza is the virus´s ability to evade acquired immunity through continual antigenic evolution. Understanding the evolutionary forces that act within and between hosts is therefore critical to interpreting past trends in influenza virus evolution and in predicting future ones. Several studies have analyzed longitudinal patterns of influenza A virus genetic diversity in natural human infections to assess the relative contributions of selection and genetic drift on within-host evolution. However, in these natural infections, within-host viral populations harbor very few single-nucleotide variants, limiting our resolution in understanding the forces acting on these populations in vivo. Furthermore, low levels of within-host viral genetic diversity limit the ability to infer the extent of drift across transmission events. Here, we propose to use influenza virus genomic diversity as an alternative signal to better understand within- and between-host patterns of viral evolution. Specifically, we focus on the dynamics of defective viral genomes (DVGs), which harbor large internal deletions in one or more of influenza virus´s eight gene segments. Our longitudinal analyses of DVGs show that influenza A virus populations are highly dynamic within hosts, corroborating previous findings based on viral genetic diversity that point toward the importance of genetic drift in driving within-host viral evolution. Furthermore, our analysis of DVG populations across transmission pairs indicates that DVGs rarely appeared to be shared, indicating the presence of tight transmission bottlenecks. Our analyses demonstrate that viral genomic diversity can be used to complement analyses based on viral genetic diversity to reveal processes that drive viral evolution within and between hosts.

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