Developing an Appropriate Evolutionary Baseline Model for the Study of Human Cytomegalovirus

Abigail A. Howell, John W. Terbot, Vivak Soni, Parul Johri, Jeffrey D. Jensen, Susanne P. Pfeifer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) represents a major threat to human health, contributing to both birth defects in neonates as well as organ transplant failure and opportunistic infections in immunocompromised individuals. HCMV exhibits considerable interhost and intrahost diversity, which likely influences the pathogenicity of the virus. Therefore, understanding the relative contributions of various evolutionary forces in shaping patterns of variation is of critical importance both mechanistically and clinically. Herein, we present the individual components of an evolutionary baseline model for HCMV, with a particular focus on congenital infections for the sake of illustration-including mutation and recombination rates, the distribution of fitness effects, infection dynamics, and compartmentalization-and describe the current state of knowledge of each. By building this baseline model, researchers will be able to better describe the range of possible evolutionary scenarios contributing to observed variation as well as improve power and reduce false-positive rates when scanning for adaptive mutations in the HCMV genome.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalGenome biology and evolution
Issue number4
StatePublished - Apr 6 2023
Externally publishedYes


  • evolutionary baseline model
  • human cytomegalovirus
  • viral population genomics

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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