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Quasispecies as a matter of fact: Viruses and beyond
- Ojosnegros, Samuel, Perales, Celia, Mas, Antonio, Domingo, Esteban
- Virus research 2011 v.162 no.1-2 pp. 203-215
- RNA, bacteria, evolution, genome, neoplasm cells, pathogenesis, prions, protein conformation, structure-activity relationships, viruses
- We review the origins of the quasispecies concept and its relevance for RNA virus evolution, viral pathogenesis and antiviral treatment strategies. We emphasize a critical point of quasispecies that refers to genome collectivities as the unit of selection, and establish parallels between RNA viruses and some cellular systems such as bacteria and tumor cells. We refer also to tantalizing new observations that suggest quasispecies behavior in prions, perhaps as a result of the same quantum-mechanical indeterminations that underlie protein conformation and error-prone replication in genetic systems. If substantiated, these observations with prions could lead to new research on the structure–function relationship of non-nucleic acid biological molecules.