Assessing in vivo mutation frequencies and creating a high-resolution genome-wide map of fitness costs of Hepatitis C virus

PLoS Genet. 2022 May 2;18(5):e1010179. doi: 10.1371/journal.pgen.1010179. eCollection 2022 May.

Abstract

Like many viruses, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) has a high mutation rate, which helps the virus adapt quickly, but mutations come with fitness costs. Fitness costs can be studied by different approaches, such as experimental or frequency-based approaches. The frequency-based approach is particularly useful to estimate in vivo fitness costs, but this approach works best with deep sequencing data from many hosts are. In this study, we applied the frequency-based approach to a large dataset of 195 patients and estimated the fitness costs of mutations at 7957 sites along the HCV genome. We used beta regression and random forest models to better understand how different factors influenced fitness costs. Our results revealed that costs of nonsynonymous mutations were three times higher than those of synonymous mutations, and mutations at nucleotides A or T had higher costs than those at C or G. Genome location had a modest effect, with lower costs for mutations in HVR1 and higher costs for mutations in Core and NS5B. Resistance mutations were, on average, costlier than other mutations. Our results show that in vivo fitness costs of mutations can be site and virus specific, reinforcing the utility of constructing in vivo fitness cost maps of viral genomes.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Genome, Viral / genetics
  • Hepacivirus* / genetics
  • Hepatitis C* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Mutation Rate

Grant support

This work was supported part by the National Science Foundation, Division Of Environmental Biology (NSFDEB-BSF) grant award #1655212 (awarded to PSP) (nsf.gov). The funders had no role in study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript.