Control of Human Anelloviruses by Cytosine to Uracil Genome Editing

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Anelloviruses are the most common viruses infecting humans. Every human carries a nonpathogenic personal anellovirus virome (anellome), yet it is unknown which mechanisms contribute to its stability. Here, we assessed the dynamics and impact of a host antiviral defense mechanism - cytidine deaminase activity leading to C to U editing in anelloviruses - on the stability of the anellome. We investigated anellome sequence data obtained from serum samples collected every 6 months from two healthy subjects followed for more than 30 years. The subjects were infected by a total of 64 anellovirus lineages. Minus-stranded C to U editing was observed in lineages belonging to the Alpha-, Beta-, and Gammatorquevirus genera. The edited genomes were present within virus particles, therefore editing must have occurred at the late stages of the virus life cycle. Editing was favored by 59-TC contexts in the virus genome, indicating that apolipoprotein B mRNA-editing enzyme, catalytic polypeptide-like, catalytic subunit 3 or A3 (APOBEC3) proteins are involved. Within a lineage, mutational dynamics varied over time and few fixations of mutations were detected, indicating that C to U editing is a dead end for a virus genome. We detected an editing coldspot in the GC-rich regions, suggesting that the GC-rich region is crucial for genome packaging, since only packaged virus particles were included in the analysis. Finally, we noticed a lineage-specific reduced concentration after an editing event, yet no clearance. In conclusion, cytidine deaminase activity does not clear anelloviruses, nor does it play a major role in virus evolution, but it does contribute to the stability of the anellome. IMPORTANCE Despite significant attention on anellovirus research, the interaction between the anellovirus virome and the human host remains unknown. We show the dynamics of APOBEC3-mediated cytidine deaminase activity on anelloviruses during a 30-year period of chronic infection and postulate that this antiviral mechanism controls anelloviruses. These results expand our knowledge of anellovirus-host interactions, which may be important for the design of gene therapies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)e0050622
Issue number6
Early online date14 Nov 2022
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2022


  • C to U genome editing
  • anellome
  • anellovirus
  • torque teno midi virus
  • torque teno mini virus
  • torque teno virus
  • virome

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