Synthetic Virology: Building Viruses to Better Understand Them

tenOever, B. R.

Cold Spring Harb Perspect Med 25/12/2019

PMID: 31871242


Generally comprised of less than a dozen components, RNA viruses can be viewed as well-designed genetic circuits optimized to replicate and spread within a given host. Understanding the molecular design that enables this activity not only allows one to disrupt these circuits to study their biology, but it provides a reprogramming framework to achieve novel outputs. Recent advances have enabled a “learning by building” approach to better understand virus biology and create valuable tools. Below is a summary of how modifying the preexisting genetic framework of influenza A virus has been used to track viral movement, understand virus replication, and identify host factors that engage this viral circuitry.