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Intrahost Selection Pressures Drive Rapid Dengue Virus Microevolution in Acute Human Infections


Dengue, caused by four dengue virus serotypes (DENV-1 to DENV-4), is a highly prevalent mosquito-borne viral disease in humans. Yet, selection pressures driving DENV microevolution within human hosts (intrahost) remain unknown. We employed a whole-genome segmented amplification approach coupled with deep sequencing to profile DENV-3 intrahost diversity in peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMC) and plasma samples from 77 dengue patients. DENV-3 intrahost diversity appears to be driven by immune pressures as well as replicative success in PBMCs and potentially other replication sites. Hotspots for intrahost variation were detected in 59%-78% of patients in the viral Envelope and pre-Membrane/Membrane proteins, which together form the virion surface. Dominant variants at the hotspots arose via convergent microevolution, appear to be immune-escape variants, and were evolutionarily constrained at the macro level due to viral replication defects. Dengue is thus an example of an acute infection in which selection pressures within infected individuals drive rapid intrahost virus microevolution.

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