Rapid genomic evolution of a non-virulent coxsackievirus B3 in selenium-deficient mice results in selection of identical virulent isolates

Nat Med. 1995 May;1(5):433-6. doi: 10.1038/nm0595-433.


Previous work from our laboratory demonstrated that selenium deficiency in the mouse allows a normally benign (amyocarditic) cloned and sequenced Coxackievirus to cause significant heart damage. Furthermore, Coxsackievirus recovered from the hearts of selenium-deficient mice inoculated into selenium-adequate mice still induced significant heart damage, suggesting that the amyocarditic Coxsackievirus had mutated to a virulent phenotype. Here we report that sequence analysis revealed six nucleotide changes between the virulent virus recovered from the selenium-deficient host and the avirulent input virus. These nucleotide changes are consistent with known differences in base composition between virulent and avirulent strains of Coxsackievirus. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first report of a specific nutritional deficiency driving changes in a viral genome, permitting an avirulent virus to acquire virulence due to genetic mutation.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biological Evolution
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / etiology*
  • Coxsackievirus Infections / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Enterovirus B, Human / genetics*
  • Enterovirus B, Human / pathogenicity
  • Heart / virology
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C3H
  • Mutation / genetics
  • Myocarditis / etiology*
  • Myocarditis / genetics
  • Selenium / deficiency*
  • Sequence Analysis, DNA
  • Virulence


  • DNA, Viral
  • Selenium