Research has shown that RNA virus populations are highly variable, most likely due to low fidelity replication of RNA genomes. It is generally assumed that populations of DNA viruses will be less complex and show reduced variability when compared to RNA viruses. Here, we describe the use of high throughput sequencing for a genome wide study of viral populations from urine samples of neonates with congenital human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) infections. We show that HCMV intrahost genomic variability, both at the nucleotide and amino acid level, is comparable to many RNA viruses, including HIV. Within intrahost populations, we find evidence of selective sweeps that may have resulted from immune-mediated mechanisms. Similarly, genome wide, population genetic analyses suggest that positive selection has contributed to the divergence of the HCMV species from its most recent ancestor. These data provide evidence that HCMV, a virus with a large dsDNA genome, exists as a complex mixture of genome types in humans and offer insights into the evolution of the virus.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Molecular Biology