Coronavirus reverse genetics by targeted RNA recombination

Curr Top Microbiol Immunol. 2005;287:133-59. doi: 10.1007/3-540-26765-4_5.


Targeted RNA recombination was the first reverse genetics system devised for coronaviruses at a time when it was not clear whether the construction of full-length infectious cDNA clones would become possible. In its current state targeted RNA recombination offers a versatile and powerful method for the site-directed mutagenesis of the downstream third of the coronavirus genome, which encodes all the viral structural proteins. The development of this system is described, with an emphasis on recent improvements, and multiple applications of this technique to the study of coronavirus molecular biology and pathogenesis are reviewed. Additionally, the relative strengths and limitations of targeted RNA recombination and infectious cDNA systems are contrasted.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Coronavirus / genetics*
  • Mutagenesis, Site-Directed / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Recombination, Genetic / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Viral Vaccines / genetics
  • Virus Replication / genetics


  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Vaccines