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antigenic drift / antigenic shift

Using named examples compare and contrast viral evolution via antigenic drift and via antigenic shift. State which mechanism is most significant in terms of impact of human disease explaining your answers.

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Antigenic shift can only occur in viruses with multipartite genomes, i.e. genomes that consist of several copies of RNA that together make up the viral genome. One example is influenza virus, an orthomyxovirus consisting of eight negative sense copies of RNA. When a cell is infected with two different influenza viruses, usually one of human origin and one of avian origin, the eight molecules of viral RNA from each virus replicate independently. When these are packaged into new virus particles, one copy of each viral segment is chosen at random, and reassortment of the segments from the two ...

Solution Summary

This solution explains the difference between antigenic shift and antigenic drift in virus infections, and provides examples of both processes.