Fidelity Variants and RNA Quasispecies

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2016;392:303-22. doi: 10.1007/82_2015_483.


By now, it is well established that the error rate of the RNA-dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) that replicates RNA virus genomes is a primary driver of the mutation frequencies observed in RNA virus populations-the basis for the RNA quasispecies. Over the last 10 years, a considerable amount of work has uncovered the molecular determinants of replication fidelity in this enzyme. The isolation of high- and low-fidelity variants for several RNA viruses, in an expanding number of viral families, provides evidence that nature has optimized the fidelity to facilitate genetic diversity and adaptation, while maintaining genetic integrity and infectivity. This chapter will provide an overview of what fidelity variants tell us about RNA virus biology and how they may be used in antiviral approaches.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Genetic Variation*
  • Humans
  • Mutation Rate
  • RNA Virus Infections / virology
  • RNA Viruses / classification
  • RNA Viruses / genetics*
  • RNA Viruses / physiology
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Viral Proteins / metabolism
  • Virus Replication


  • Viral Proteins