RNA Viruses: The genetic structure of RNA viral populations (quasi-species) determine their intra-host evolution, rapid adaptation and hence their pathogenesis. Host immune pressure plays a unique role in RNA virus evolution. Viruses such as hepatitis C (HCV) evolve multiple mechanisms to disrupt immune signaling cascades with a net multilayered effect leading to immune escape and/or immune modulation. Such mechanisms are pivotal for viral persistence, treatment failure and ongoing liver injury probably even after apparent successful viral eradication. Our goal is to identify and characterize molecular principles that explain dynamic changes in viral quasi-species and adaptation on host factors to explore basic aspects of immune modulation and escape from immune and/or drug pressure in RNA virus infection.
Welsch et al., J Hepatol 2015; 2015 Apr;62(4):779-84.