Decoding the Role of Temperature in RNA Virus Infections

mBio. 2022 Oct 26;13(5):e0202122. doi: 10.1128/mbio.02021-22. Epub 2022 Aug 18.


RNA viruses include respiratory viruses, such as coronaviruses and influenza viruses, as well as vector-borne viruses, like dengue and West Nile virus. RNA viruses like these encounter various environments when they copy themselves and spread from cell to cell or host to host. Ex vivo differences, such as geographical location and humidity, affect their stability and transmission, while in vivo differences, such as pH and host gene expression, impact viral receptor binding, viral replication, and the host immune response against the viral infection. A critical factor affecting RNA viruses both ex vivo and in vivo, and defining the outcome of viral infections and the direction of viral evolution, is temperature. In this minireview, we discuss the impact of temperature on viral replication, stability, transmission, and adaptation, as well as the host innate immune response. Improving our understanding of how RNA viruses function, survive, and spread at different temperatures will improve our models of viral replication and transmission risk analyses.

Keywords: RNA polymerase; RNA virus; SARS coronavirus 2; arbovirus; flavivirus; influenza A virus; innate immune response; replication; respiratory virus; stability; temperature; transmission; zoonotic.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • RNA Virus Infections*
  • RNA Viruses* / genetics
  • Temperature
  • Virus Replication
  • West Nile virus* / genetics