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August 26, 2018

High resolution evolutionary analysis of within-host hepatitis C virus infection

Despite major breakthroughs in the treatment of HCV infection in recent years, we have a limited understanding of how virus diversity generated within individuals impacts the evolution and spread of HCV variants at the population scale. This will be important for building models for molecular epidemiology, which can identify main sources of disease transmission and evaluate the risks of drug-resistance mutations emerging and disseminating in a population. Here, we undertaken a high-resolution analysis of HCV within-host evolution from four individuals co-infected with HIV. Specifically, we used long-read, deep-sequenced data of the full-length HCV envelope glycoprotein, longitudinally sampled from acute to…

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June 1, 2018

Unexpected invasion of miniature inverted-repeat transposable elements in viral genomes

Transposable elements (TEs) are common and often present with high copy numbers in cellular genomes. Unlike in cellular organisms, TEs were previously thought to be either rare or absent in viruses. Almost all reported TEs display only one or two copies per viral genome. In addition, the discovery of pandoraviruses with genomes up to 2.5-Mb emphasizes the need for biologists to rethink the fundamental nature of the relationship between viruses and cellular life.

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May 24, 2017

Quasispecies composition and evolution of a typical Zika virus clinical isolate from Suriname.

The arthropod-borne Zika virus (ZIKV) is currently causing a major international public health threat in the Americas. This study describes the isolation of ZIKV from the plasma of a 29-year-old female traveler that developed typical symptoms, like rash, fever and headache upon return from Suriname. The complete genome sequence including the 5' and 3' untranslated regions was determined and phylogenetic analysis showed the isolate clustering within the Asian lineage, close to other viruses that have recently been isolated in the Americas. In addition, the viral quasispecies composition was analyzed by single molecule real time sequencing, which suggested a mutation frequency…

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August 1, 2016

Single-molecule sequencing reveals complex genomic variation of hepatitis B virus during 15 years of chronic infection following liver transplantation.

Chronic hepatitis B (CHB) is prevalent worldwide. The infectious agent, hepatitis B virus (HBV) replicates via an RNA intermediate and is error-prone, leading to rapid generation of closely related but not identical viral variants, including those that can escape host immune responses and antiviral treatments. The complexity of CHB can be further enhanced by the presence of HBV variants with large deletions in the genome, generated via splicing (spHBV). Although spHBV variants are incapable of autonomous replication, their replication is rescued by wild-type HBV. SpHBV variants have been shown to enhance wild-type virus replication, and their prevalence increases with liver…

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July 9, 2016

Rapid sequencing of complete env genes from primary HIV-1 samples

The ability to study rapidly evolving viral populations has been constrained by the read length of next-generation sequencing approaches and the sampling depth of single-genome amplification methods. Here, we develop and characterize a method using Pacific Biosciences Single Molecule, Real-Time (SMRT) sequencing technology to sequence multiple, intact full-length human immunodeficiency virus-1 env genes amplified from viral RNA populations circulating in blood, and provide computational tools for analyzing and visualizing these data.

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June 19, 2016

An improved circular consensus algorithm with an application to detect HIV-1 Drug Resistance Associated Mutations (DRAMs)

Scientists who require confident resolution of heterogeneous populations across complex regions have been unable to transition to short-read sequencing methods. They continue to depend on Sanger sequencing despite its cost and time inefficiencies. Here we present a new redesigned algorithm that allows the generation of circular consensus sequences (CCS) from individual SMRT Sequencing reads. With this new algorithm, dubbed CCS2, it is possible to reach high quality across longer insert lengths at a lower cost and higher throughput than Sanger sequencing. We applied CCS2 to the characterization of the HIV-1 K103N drug-resistance associated mutation in both clonal and patient samples.…

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April 8, 2016

Long single-molecule reads can resolve the complexity of the influenza virus composed of rare, closely related mutant variants

As a result of a high rate of mutations and recombination events, an RNA-virus exists as a heterogeneous “swarm” of mutant variants. The long read length offered by single-molecule sequencing technologies allows each mutant variant to be sequenced in a single pass. However, high error rate limits the ability to reconstruct heterogeneous viral population composed of rare, related mutant variants. In this paper, we present 2SNV, a method able to tolerate the high error-rate of the single-molecule protocol and reconstruct mutant variants. 2SNV uses linkage between single nucleotide variations to efficiently distinguish them from read errors. To benchmark the sensitivity…

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March 18, 2016

Estimating fitness of viral quasispecies from next-generation sequencing data.

The quasispecies model is ubiquitous in the study of viruses. While having lead to a number of insights that have stood the test of time, the quasispecies model has mostly been discussed in a theoretical fashion with little support of data. With next-generation sequencing (NGS), this situation is changing and a wealth of data can now be produced in a time- and cost-efficient manner. NGS can, after removal of technical errors, yield an exceedingly detailed picture of the viral population structure. The widespread availability of cross-sectional data can be used to study fitness landscapes of viral populations in the quasispecies…

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February 1, 2016

Quantifying influenza virus diversity and transmission in humans.

Influenza A virus is characterized by high genetic diversity. However, most of what is known about influenza evolution has come from consensus sequences sampled at the epidemiological scale that only represent the dominant virus lineage within each infected host. Less is known about the extent of within-host virus diversity and what proportion of this diversity is transmitted between individuals. To characterize virus variants that achieve sustainable transmission in new hosts, we examined within-host virus genetic diversity in household donor-recipient pairs from the first wave of the 2009 H1N1 pandemic when seasonal H3N2 was co-circulating. Although the same variants were found…

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January 1, 2016

Towards better precision medicine: PacBio single-molecule long reads resolve the interpretation of HIV drug resistant mutation profiles at explicit quasispecies (haplotype) level.

Development of HIV-1 drug resistance mutations (HDRMs) is one of the major reasons for the clinical failure of antiretroviral therapy. Treatment success rates can be improved by applying personalized anti-HIV regimens based on a patient's HDRM profile. However, the sensitivity and specificity of the HDRM profile is limited by the methods used for detection. Sanger-based sequencing technology has traditionally been used for determining HDRM profiles at the single nucleotide variant (SNV) level, but with a sensitivity of only = 20% in the HIV population of a patient. Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) technologies offer greater detection sensitivity (~ 1%) and larger…

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September 1, 2015

Emergence of ebola virus escape variants in infected nonhuman primates treated with the MB-003 antibody cocktail.

MB-003, a plant-derived monoclonal antibody cocktail used effectively in treatment of Ebola virus infection in non-human primates, was unable to protect two of six animals when initiated 1 or 2 days post-infection. We characterized a mechanism of viral escape in one of the animals, after observation of two clusters of genomic mutations that resulted in five nonsynonymous mutations in the monoclonal antibody target sites. These mutations were linked to a reduction in antibody binding and later confirmed to be present in a viral isolate that was not neutralized in vitro. Retrospective evaluation of a second independent study allowed the identification of a…

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