The molecular biology of coronaviruses

Adv Virus Res. 1997:48:1-100. doi: 10.1016/S0065-3527(08)60286-9.


This chapter discusses the manipulation of clones of coronavirus and of complementary DNAs (cDNAs) of defective-interfering (DI) RNAs to study coronavirus RNA replication, transcription, recombination, processing and transport of proteins, virion assembly, identification of cell receptors for coronaviruses, and processing of the polymerase. The nature of the coronavirus genome is nonsegmented, single-stranded, and positive-sense RNA. Its size ranges from 27 to 32 kb, which is significantly larger when compared with other RNA viruses. The gene encoding the large surface glycoprotein is up to 4.4 kb, encoding an imposing trimeric, highly glycosylated protein. This soars some 20 nm above the virion envelope, giving the virus the appearance-with a little imagination-of a crown or coronet. Coronavirus research has contributed to the understanding of many aspects of molecular biology in general, such as the mechanism of RNA synthesis, translational control, and protein transport and processing. It remains a treasure capable of generating unexpected insights.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Coronavirus / physiology*
  • Humans
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • Virion
  • Virus Replication


  • RNA, Viral