Viruses survive often harsh host environments, yet we know little about the strategies they utilize to adapt and subsist given their limited genomic resources. We are beginning to appreciate the surprising versatility of viral genomes and how replication-competent and -defective virus variants can provide means for adaptation, immune escape and virus perpetuation. This Review summarizes current knowledge of the types of defective viral genomes generated during the replication of RNA viruses and the functions that they carry out. We highlight the universality and diversity of defective viral genomes during infections and discuss their predicted role in maintaining a fit virus population, their impact on human and animal health, and their potential to be harnessed as antiviral tools.
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This work was supported by the US National Institutes of Health National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (grants nos. NIH AI083284, AI137062 and AI134862 to C.B.L.) and the DARPA INTERCEPT program (to M.V.) managed by J. Gimlett and administered though DARPA Cooperative Agreement (grant no. HR0011-17-2-0023). In addition, this work was supported by a Fulbright US Scholar award to C.B.L. The views expressed in this article do not necessarily represent the position or the policy of the US government, and no official endorsement should be inferred.
The authors declare no competing interests.
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Vignuzzi, M., López, C.B. Defective viral genomes are key drivers of the virus–host interaction. Nat Microbiol 4, 1075–1087 (2019) doi:10.1038/s41564-019-0465-y
Trends in Immunology (2019)