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  1. Schwartz, Russell (Ed.)
    Science students increasingly need programming and data science skills to be competitive in the modern workforce. However, at our university (San Francisco State University), until recently, almost no biology, biochemistry, and chemistry students (from here bio/chem students) completed a minor in computer science. To change this, a new minor in computing applications, which is informally known as the Promoting Inclusivity in Computing (PINC) minor, was established in 2016. Here, we present the lessons we learned from our experience in a set of 10 rules. The first 3 rules focus on setting up the program so that it interests students in biology, chemistry, and biochemistry. Rules 4 through 8 focus on how the classes of the program are taught to make them interesting for our students and to provide the students with the support they need. The last 2 rules are about what happens “behind the scenes” of running a program with many people from several departments involved.
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available July 14, 2023
  2. Wahl, Lindi (Ed.)
    Like many viruses, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) has a high mutation rate, which helps the virus adapt quickly, but mutations come with fitness costs. Fitness costs can be studied by different approaches, such as experimental or frequency-based approaches. The frequency-based approach is particularly useful to estimate in vivo fitness costs, but this approach works best with deep sequencing data from many hosts are. In this study, we applied the frequency-based approach to a large dataset of 195 patients and estimated the fitness costs of mutations at 7957 sites along the HCV genome. We used beta regression and random forest models to better understand how different factors influenced fitness costs. Our results revealed that costs of nonsynonymous mutations were three times higher than those of synonymous mutations, and mutations at nucleotides A or T had higher costs than those at C or G. Genome location had a modest effect, with lower costs for mutations in HVR1 and higher costs for mutations in Core and NS5B. Resistance mutations were, on average, costlier than other mutations. Our results show that in vivo fitness costs of mutations can be site and virus specific, reinforcing the utility of constructing in vivo fitness cost maps ofmore »viral genomes.« less
    Free, publicly-accessible full text available May 2, 2023
  3. Triple-drug therapies have transformed HIV from a fatal condition to a chronic one. These therapies should prevent HIV drug resistance evolution, because one or more drugs suppress any partially resistant viruses. In practice, such therapies drastically reduced, but did not eliminate, resistance evolution. In this article, we reanalyze published data from an evolutionary perspective and demonstrate several intriguing patterns about HIV resistance evolution - resistance evolves (1) even after years on successful therapy, (2) sequentially, often via one mutation at a time and (3) in a partially predictable order. We describe how these observations might emerge under two models of HIV drugs varying in space or time. Despite decades of work in this area, much opportunity remains to create models with realistic parameters for three drugs, and to match model outcomes to resistance rates and genetic patterns from individuals on triple-drug therapy. Further, lessons from HIV may inform other systems.
  4. Understanding within-host evolution is critical for predicting viral evolutionary outcomes, yet such studies are currently lacking due to difficulty involving human subjects. Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is an RNA virus with high mutation rates. Its complex evolutionary dynamics and extensive genetic diversity are demonstrated in over 67 known subtypes. In this study, we analyzed within-host mutation frequency patterns of three HCV subtypes, using a large number of samples obtained from treatment-naïve participants by next-generation sequencing. We report that overall mutation frequency patterns are similar among subtypes, yet subtype 3a consistently had lower mutation frequencies and nucleotide diversity, while subtype 1a had the highest. We found that about 50% of genomic sites are highly conserved across subtypes, which are likely under strong purifying selection. We also compared within-host and between-host selective pressures, which revealed that Hyper Variable Region 1 within hosts was under positive selection, but was under slightly negative selection between hosts, which indicates that many mutations created within hosts are removed during the transmission bottleneck. Examining the natural prevalence of known resistance-associated variants showed their consistent existence in the treatment-naïve participants. These results provide insights into the differences and similarities among HCV subtypes that may be used to developmore »and improve HCV therapies.« less
  5. Lowen, Anice C. (Ed.)
    Genetic diversity is the fuel of evolution and facilitates adaptation to novel environments. However, our understanding of what drives differences in the genetic diversity during the early stages of viral infection is somewhat limited. Here, we use ultra-deep sequencing to interrogate 43 clinical samples taken from early infections of the human-infecting viruses HIV, RSV and CMV. Hundreds to thousands of virus templates were sequenced per sample, allowing us to reveal dramatic differences in within-host genetic diversity among virus populations. We found that increased diversity was mostly driven by presence of multiple divergent genotypes in HIV and CMV samples, which we suggest reflect multiple transmitted/founder viruses. Conversely, we detected an abundance of low frequency hyper-edited genomes in RSV samples, presumably reflecting defective virus genomes (DVGs). We suggest that RSV is characterized by higher levels of cellular co-infection, which allow for complementation and hence elevated levels of DVGs.
  6. Leitner, Thomas (Ed.)
    Abstract Due to the scope and impact of the COVID-19 pandemic there exists a strong desire to understand where the SARS-CoV-2 virus came from and how it jumped species boundaries to humans. Molecular evolutionary analyses can trace viral origins by establishing relatedness and divergence times of viruses and identifying past selective pressures. However, we must uphold rigorous standards of inference and interpretation on this topic because of the ramifications of being wrong. Here, we dispute the conclusions of Xia (2020. Extreme genomic CpG deficiency in SARS-CoV-2 and evasion of host antiviral defense. Mol Biol Evol. doi:10.1093/molbev/masa095) that dogs are a likely intermediate host of a SARS-CoV-2 ancestor. We highlight major flaws in Xia’s inference process and his analysis of CpG deficiencies, and conclude that there is no direct evidence for the role of dogs as intermediate hosts. Bats and pangolins currently have the greatest support as ancestral hosts of SARS-CoV-2, with the strong caveat that sampling of wildlife species for coronaviruses has been limited.