Conference Contribution Details
Mandatory Fields
Liam Fanning;
Viruses and Innate Immunity
Hepatitis C
Dublin, Ireland
Invited Oral Presentation
Optional Fields

RNA genomes occupy a specific niche in virology and are the cause of considerable
morbidity and mortality worldwide. As protein coding elements, RNA viruses
practice ¿genomic origami¿, condensing the necessary prerequisites for replication,
translation and perpetuation of viral infections into very small genomes. The very
significant degree of heterogeneity is generated in large measure by the error prone
RNA replicase generating quasispecies. This genomic and proteome quasispecies
exhibits a spectrum of viral fitness that potentiates viral persistence and protects viral
families against future purifying selection. Our investigations into quasispecies have
yield insights into viral population dynamics during chronic hepatitis C infection,
cytotoxic T cell and humoral immunity and how treatment modulates the quasispecies
qualitatively and quantitatively. We now know that continuous immune surveillance
can create bottle necks during transmission to new hosts and viral adaption can leave
¿genomic footprints¿ giving a clearer picture of quasispecies evolution. The
functional consequences of quasispecies is such that HCV has the capacity to produce
mutants that have varying degrees of resistance to temporally unique positive
selection pressures, to have mutant spectra that are associated with resistant to novel
anti-virals, even in untreated individuals. The phenomenon of quasispecies endows
RNA viruses with an almost endless capacity to mutate and provides these viruses
with a degree of ¿future proofing¿ not found in many biota.