Chapter 14 : Recombination in the Evolution of Picornaviruses

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In viruses, recombination may allow foreign genes to be acquired or may create a composite genome through recombination between different virus variants. The ability to identify a recombinant virus and the positions where recombination occurred is only as certain as the identification of the component parental viral genomes from which it was generated. Recombination detection thus shares many elements and is ultimately dependent on evolutionary reconstructions and, most importantly, on methods for the delineation of separate phylogenetic groups. The structure of the 5’ untranslated region (5’ UTR) of picornaviruses provides a further example of modular exchange through recombination during the evolution of separate genera within the picornavirus family. Members of the same picornavirus genus show conserved gene order and content, and over the much shorter evolutionary time scale in which species and serotypes developed, gene exchange is best documented as homologous recombination events. One of the problems with conceptualizing the process of recombination of enteroviruses and other picornaviruses revolves around the fundamentally different sequence relationships between serotypes in structural gene and nonstructural (NS) region sequences. From the evidence we have from the current range of picornaviruses infecting humans and other mammals, recombination has been a pervasive influence on both the early and contemporary evolution of these viruses. The wide range of molecular tools developed in picornavirus research, reverse genetics, and methods for in vitro and in vivo culture provides unprecedented future opportunities to explore the causes and consequences of recombination in RNA viruses.

Citation: Simmonds P. 2010. Recombination in the Evolution of Picornaviruses, p 229-237. In Ehrenfeld E, Domingo E, Roos R (ed), The Picornaviruses. ASM Press, Washington, DC. doi: 10.1128/9781555816698.ch14
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