Deep sequencing of RSV from an adult challenge study and from naturally infected infants reveals heterogeneous diversification dynamics.
As RNA virus mutation occurs during replication within host cells, we hypothesized that viral evolution during acute infections in healthy hosts reflects host immune pressure. We therefore investigated the within-host diversification of human respiratory syncytial virus (RSV), a highly prevalent cause of acute respiratory infections. We evaluated healthy adults experimentally infected with an identical inoculum and infants hospitalized with naturally acquired infections. In aggregate, viral diversification in adults peaked at day 3, with overrepresentation of diversity in the matrix protein 2 (M2) and non-structural protein 2 (NS2) genes. In one subject, delayed viral clearance was accompanied by a late peak of diversity at day 10 in known and predicted B and T cell epitopes. In contrast, infant infections showed much less viral diversity. Our findings suggest multiple overlapping mechanisms for early control of acute viral infections, which may differ between age groups and host immune responses.
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HHSN272200900018C / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States
K08 AI104767 / AI / NIAID NIH HHS / United States