Construction and applications of SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses: a mini review

Int J Biol Sci. 2021 Apr 10;17(6):1574-1580. doi: 10.7150/ijbs.59184. eCollection 2021.


The ongoing coronavirus disease 2019 pandemic, caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), has posed a serious threat to global public health and social stability. There is an urgent need for understanding the nature and infection mechanism of the virus. Owing to its high infectivity and pathogenicity and lack of effective treatments, live SARS-CoV-2 has to be handled in biosafety level 3 laboratories, which has impeded research into SARS-CoV-2 and the development of vaccines and therapeutics. Pseudotyped viruses that lack certain gene sequences of the virulent virus are safer and can be investigated in biosafety level 2 laboratories, providing a useful virological tool for the study of SARS-CoV-2. In this review, we will discuss the construction of SARS-CoV-2 pseudoviruses based on different packaging systems, current applications, limitations, and further explorations.

Keywords: COVID-19; SARS-CoV-2; packaging system; pseudovirus; spike protein.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Antibodies, Neutralizing / immunology
  • Antibodies, Viral / immunology
  • COVID-19 / virology*
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2 / immunology
  • SARS-CoV-2 / physiology*
  • Viral Genome Packaging


  • Antibodies, Neutralizing
  • Antibodies, Viral