Concept

Antigenic drift

Summary
Antigenic drift is a kind of genetic variation in viruses, arising from the accumulation of mutations in the virus genes that code for virus-surface proteins that host antibodies recognize. This results in a new strain of virus particles that is not effectively inhibited by the antibodies that prevented infection by previous strains. This makes it easier for the changed virus to spread throughout a partially immune population. Antigenic drift occurs in both and viruses. (Confusion can arise with two very similar terms, antigenic shift and genetic drift. Antigenic shift is a closely related process; it refers to the more dramatic changes in the virus's surface proteins when the genetic material from two or more viruses mix together. Genetic drift is very different and much more broadly applicable; it refers to the gradual accumulation in any DNA sequence of random mutational changes that do not interfere with the DNA's function and thus that are not seen by natural selection.) The
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