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Application of Quasispecies Concepts to RNA Virus Attenuation and Vaccine Development – QuasispeciesVax

Submission summary

RNA viruses have the highest mutation frequencies in nature, which are in large part attributed to the low fidelity of their viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRp). Explosive replication kinetics coupled with high mutation rates quickly generate highly diverse populations (quasispecies) maintained by mutation-selection balance. RNA virus quasispecies have been observed for nearly all RNA viruses, but whether genetic heterogeneity is a function or consequence of a the virus' interaction with its host environment has been difficult to answer, particularly in vivo. Recently, we have developed a model system to study these questions by altering the RdRp fidelity of poliovirus, thereby changing the amount of genetic diversity present in a population. We showed that viral infectivity, dissemination and pathogenicity were dependent on the level of genetic diversity present within a viral population. We also showed that restricting genetic diversity strongly attenuates virus and may constitute a novel strategy to engineer live virus vaccines. However, the poliovirus model of infection of transgenic mice presents significant differences and limitations with respects to a natural host infection. To further extend our preliminary results, we propose to shift the expertise acquired in these recent studies to a more natural model of infection, using the Coxsackie B3 virus. This new model of study will permit a more detailed determination of the role of genetic diversity in pathogenesis. We will use our new study model to develop new approaches to vaccine discovery based on quasispecies concepts.

Project coordinator

The author of this summary is the project coordinator, who is responsible for the content of this summary. The ANR declines any responsibility as for its contents.


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Beginning and duration of the scientific project: - 0 Months

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