Generated randomly and selected functionally? The nature of enterovirus recombination

Fadi G. Alnaji*, Kirsten Bentley, Ashley Pearson, Andrew Woodman, Jonathan Moore, Helen Fox, Andrew MacAdam, David John Evans*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Genetic recombination in RNA viruses is an important evolutionary mechanism. It con-tributes to population diversity, host/tissue adaptation and compromises vaccine efficacy. Both the molecular mechanism and initial products of recombination are relatively poorly understood. We used an established poliovirus-based in vitro recombination assay to investigate the roles of se-quence identity and RNA structure, both implicated or inferred from analysis of circulating recom-binant viruses, in the process. In addition, we used next generation sequencing to investigate the early products of recombination after cellular co-infection with different poliovirus serotypes. In independent studies we find no evidence for a role for RNA identity or structure in determining recombination junctions location. Instead, genome function and fitness are of greater importance in determining the identity of recombinant progeny. These studies provide further insights into this important evolutionary mechanism and emphasise the critical nature of the selection process on a mixed virus population.
Original languageEnglish
Article number916
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 28 Apr 2022


  • Positive-sense RNA viruses
  • Viral evolution
  • Recombination
  • Next Generation Sequencing


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