Research Topic

Codon Usage and Dinucleotide Composition of Virus Genomes: From the Virus-Host Interaction to the Development of Vaccines

About this Research Topic

Dinucleotide and codon usage biases are universal in all organisms and occur due to the interplay between their nucleotide composition and selective pressures. Selective pressures include for instance translation efficiency, translation kinetics modulation and in the particular case of viruses also escaping from cellular antiviral responses. Furthermore, the genome composition of viruses plays an important role in the virus-cell interaction and consequently contributes to the viral evolution. Virus genomes with severe or subtle changes in the dinucleotide and/or codon composition, produced by means of synthetic biology or genomic selection, render virus populations with altered replication capacities useful in new vaccine designs.

The origin of codon and dinucleotide biases is still controversial. Some studies suggest that it’s mostly due to mutational biases, while others consider natural selection to play the main role. The truth probably lies in a combination of both. In the case of viruses, there is an additional factor emphasizing the critical role of selection in shaping the viral codon and dinucleotide usage: the virus-host interaction. Viruses need to adapt to the cell machinery, resources and responses for their own biological cycle, and this adaptation may involve genomic biases.

It is possible to manipulate the genome composition of viruses with a described relationship between their codon and/or dinucleotide composition and their cellular interaction. Such a modification may serve to attenuate or improve viral replication, with the final aim to design new vaccines.

With these principles in mind, we propose this Research Topic to cover three main areas, below:

1. Implications of the virus genome composition in the biology and evolution of various organisms.
2. Effects of the genome composition on virus evolution and the virus-host interaction.
3. Application of the genome composition findings in the development of vaccines against particular viruses.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

Dinucleotide and codon usage biases are universal in all organisms and occur due to the interplay between their nucleotide composition and selective pressures. Selective pressures include for instance translation efficiency, translation kinetics modulation and in the particular case of viruses also escaping from cellular antiviral responses. Furthermore, the genome composition of viruses plays an important role in the virus-cell interaction and consequently contributes to the viral evolution. Virus genomes with severe or subtle changes in the dinucleotide and/or codon composition, produced by means of synthetic biology or genomic selection, render virus populations with altered replication capacities useful in new vaccine designs.

The origin of codon and dinucleotide biases is still controversial. Some studies suggest that it’s mostly due to mutational biases, while others consider natural selection to play the main role. The truth probably lies in a combination of both. In the case of viruses, there is an additional factor emphasizing the critical role of selection in shaping the viral codon and dinucleotide usage: the virus-host interaction. Viruses need to adapt to the cell machinery, resources and responses for their own biological cycle, and this adaptation may involve genomic biases.

It is possible to manipulate the genome composition of viruses with a described relationship between their codon and/or dinucleotide composition and their cellular interaction. Such a modification may serve to attenuate or improve viral replication, with the final aim to design new vaccines.

With these principles in mind, we propose this Research Topic to cover three main areas, below:

1. Implications of the virus genome composition in the biology and evolution of various organisms.
2. Effects of the genome composition on virus evolution and the virus-host interaction.
3. Application of the genome composition findings in the development of vaccines against particular viruses.


Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.

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Submission Deadlines

25 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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Topic Editors

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Submission Deadlines

25 September 2020 Manuscript

Participating Journals

Manuscripts can be submitted to this Research Topic via the following journals:

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