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Title: The evolution of viral diversity
Author: Wikramaratna, Paul Silva
ISNI:       0000 0004 2739 4302
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2012
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This thesis focuses on the population dynamics of three antigenically diverse RNA viruses: dengue, influenza and HIV-1. It comprises a set of studies highlighting the roles of structural constraints on critical antigenic determinants, interactions between immune responses to different antigenic types, host lifespan, and the degree of mixing between different host populations in determining the epidemiology and within-host dynamics of these pathogen systems. Dengue exists in humans as a collection of four antigenically related serotypes. Although infection by one serotype appears to convey life-long protection to homologous infection, it is believed to be a risk factor for severe disease manifestations upon secondary, heterologous infection due to the phenomenon of Antibody-Dependent Enhancement (ADE). It is not clear if third or fourth infections are possible, and if so, how they contribute to dengue epidemiology. In this thesis, I investigate the effect of third and fourth infections on the transmission dynamics of dengue. By contrast with dengue, human influenza viruses are known to be in rapid antigenic flux, manifesting in the sequential replacement of antigenic types. This pattern of evolution does not appear to be the same in shorter-lived hosts such as swine and birds. In this thesis, I have used a simple multi-locus model to explore the relationship between host lifespan and viral evolution, as well as to elucidate the effects of transmission between hosts of different lifespan in effort to capture the cross-species element of influenza transmission. My final chapter concerns the within-host evolution of HIV-1. I propose a new model for the pathogenesis of HIV-1 where the transition to AIDS is primarily linked to the gradual loss of the ability to make new antibody responses as the CD4+ population declines. Together these studies emphasise that it is the changing profile of immune responses – either at the population level or within the host – that is the principal determinant of the dynamics of the pathogen, rather than the mode and tempo of antigenic innovation.
Supervisor: Gupta, Sunetra ; Pybus, Oliver G. Sponsor: Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Biology and other natural sciences (mathematics) ; Evolution (zoology) ; Disease (zoology) ; antigenic evolution ; virus