About this Research Topic
RNA viruses constitute a major group of pathogens and their infections lead to immeasurable social and economic loss and pose huge threats to global public health. Medically important RNA viruses, such as influenza virus, dengue virus, coronavirus, filoviruses, rotaviruses, enteroviruses, are responsible for millions of human deaths each year.
Despite all having an RNA genome, RNA viruses are largely diverse in their genomic organization and replication mechanisms. Several different types of RNA genomes exist, including segmented or non-segmented, positive or negative or ambisense, and single- or double-stranded. One of the common features for RNA viruses is the error-prone nature of the viral polymerase, thus these viruses tend to have high mutation rates during replication that play a pivotal role in driving viral evolution and immune evasion. Mutations also confound clinical diagnosis and present challenges in the development of antiviral drugs and vaccines. Finally, it is important to note that the majority of RNA viruses that infect humans have a zoonotic origin, and there are many examples where critical mutations have been shown to be responsible for the occurrence of interspecies transmission and emerging diseases.
Reverse genetics provide a powerful tool for the study of RNA viruses by allowing introduction of specific alterations into a viral genome. Through manipulation of the plasmid-assembled complementary DNA of a viral RNA genome, one can generate infectious RNA virus, modified or reporter viruses, replicons, virus-like particles, etc. Engineering viruses by reverse genetics enables instant testing of properties for which a selective pressure is not naturally available, thus contributing greatly to our understanding of RNA viruses in various aspects. In recent years, the interest in genetically modified viruses is exponentially increasing and their applications have covered basic research and applied sciences. Besides, with the growing interest in synthetic biology, reverse genetics will continue to play an important role in virus research.
In response to such interest and demand, this Research Topic welcomes contributions of the research on RNA viruses by utilizing reverse genetics technologies, especially on but not limited to:
- infectious culture and animal models,
- viral adaptation and evolution.
Keywords: RNA virus, infectious models, reverse genetics, adaptation, evolution
Important Note: All contributions to this Research Topic must be within the scope of the section and journal to which they are submitted, as defined in their mission statements. Frontiers reserves the right to guide an out-of-scope manuscript to a more suitable section or journal at any stage of peer review.