Intra-host variation structure of classical swine fever virus NS5B in relation to antiviral therapy
Haegeman, Andy × Vrancken, Robert Neyts, Johan Koenen, Frank #
Antiviral Research vol:98 issue:2 pages:266-272
Classical swine fever (CSF) is one of most important diseases of the Suidea with severe social economic consequences in case of outbreaks. Antivirals have been demonstrated, in recent publications, to be an interesting alternative method of fighting the disease. However, classical swine fever virus is an RNA virus which presents a challenge as intra-host variation and the error prone RNA dependent RNA polymerase (RdRp) could lead to the emergence/selection of resistant variants hampering further treatment. Therefore, it was the purpose of this study to investigate the intra-host variation of the RdRp gene, targeted by antivirals, in respect to antiviral treatment. Using the non-unique nucleotide changes, a limited intra-host variation was found in the wild type virus with 2 silent and 2 non-synonymous sites. This number shifted significantly when an antiviral resistant variant was analyzed. In total 22nt changes were found resulting in 14 amino acid changes whereby each genome copy contained at least 2 amino-acid changes in the RdRp. Interestingly, the frequency of the mutations situated in close proximity to a region involved in antiviral resistance in CSFV and bovine viral diarrhea virus (BVDV) was elevated compared to the other mutations. None of the identified mutations in the resistant variant and which could potentially result in antiviral resistance was present in the wild type virus as a non-unique mutation. In view of the spectrum of mutations identified in the resistance associated region and that none of the resistance associated mutations reported for another strain of classical swine fever for the same antiviral were observed in the study, it can be suggested that multiple mutations confer resistance to some degree. Although the followed classical approach allowed the analysis the RdRp as a whole, the contribution of unique mutations to the intra-host variation could not be completely resolved. There was a significant difference in de number of unique mutations found between: 1/wild type virus and the antiviral resistant variant and 2/between both and the number to be expected from the error rate of the RT-PCR process. This indicates that the some of the unique mutations contributed to the intra-host variation and that the antiviral pressure also shifted this pattern. This is important as one of the non-synonymous mutations found in the resistant variant and which was located in the antiviral resistance associated region, was present in the wild type virus as a unique mutation. The findings presented in this study not only show the importance of intra-host variation analysis but also warrants further research certainly in view of the potential inclusion of antivirals in a control/eradication strategy.