Determination of the mutation rate of a retrovirus

J. M. Leider, P. Palese, F. I. Smith

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Scopus citations


The mutation rate of Rous sarcoma virus (RSV) was measured. Progeny descended from a single virion were collected after one replication cycle, and seven regions of the genome were analyzed for mutations by denaturing-gradient gel electrophoresis. In all, 65,250 nucleotides were screened, yielding nine mutations, and the RSV mutation rate was calculated as 1.4 x 10-4 mutations per nucleotide per replication cycle. These results indicate that RSV is an extremely mutable virus. We speculate that the mutation rate of a virus may correlate inversely with the effectiveness of vaccination against a given virus and suggest that prevention of retrovirus-mediated disease via vaccination may prove difficult.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3084-3091
Number of pages8
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1988


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