Negative-strand RNA viruses have been refractory to genetic manipulation using recombinant DNA techniques. Recently, new techniques were developed that allowed the rescue of synthetic RNA molecules into influenza A viruses and, subsequently, into other negative-strand RNA viruses. These techniques are presently being used to study the molecular biology of these viruses. Questions concerning cis- and trans-acting elements that are involved in transcription and replication of negative-sense RNA viral genomes can now be addressed with reverse genetic approaches. Further development of this methodology has enabled the construction - by recombinant DNA techniques - of influenza A viruses that contain altered genomes. The phenotypic characteristics and possible applications of these novel transfectant viruses are also discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)765-790
Number of pages26
JournalAnnual Review of Microbiology
StatePublished - 1993


  • RNA transfection
  • genetic manipulation
  • reverse genetics
  • viral vectors
  • virus replication


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