Cooperative Interaction Within RNA Virus Mutant Spectra

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2016:392:219-29. doi: 10.1007/82_2015_461.


RNA viruses usually consist of mutant spectra because of high error rates of viral RNA polymerases. Growth competition occurs among different viral variants, and the fittest clones predominate under given conditions. Individual variants, however, may not be entirely independent of each other, and internal interactions within mutant spectra can occur. Examples of cooperative and interfering interactions that exert enhancing and suppressing effects on replication of the wild-type virus, respectively, have been described, but their underlying mechanisms have not been well defined. It was recently found that the cooperation between wild-type and variant measles virus genomes produces a new phenotype through the heterooligomer formation of a viral protein. This observation provides a molecular mechanism underlying cooperative interactions within mutant spectra. Careful attention to individual sequences, in addition to consensus sequences, may disclose further examples of internal interactions within mutant spectra.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Evolution, Molecular
  • Humans
  • Measles / virology
  • Measles virus / classification
  • Measles virus / genetics
  • Measles virus / physiology*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Mutation*
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • Viral Proteins