The rotavirus genome is composed of 11 gene segments of double-stranded (ds)RNA. Reverse genetics is the powerful and ideal methodology for the molecular analysis of virus biology, which enables the virus genome to be artificially manipulated. Although reverse genetics systems exist for nearly all major groups of RNA viruses, development of such a system for rotaviruses is more challenging owing in part to the technical complexity of manipulation of their multi-segmented genome. A breakthrough in the field of rotavirus reverse genetics came in 2006, when we established the first reverse genetics system for rotaviruses, which is a partially plasmid-based system that permits replacement of a viral gene segment with the aid of a helper virus. Although this helper virus-driven system is technically limited and gives low levels of recombinant viruses, it allows alteration of the rotavirus genome, thus contributing to our understanding of these medically important viruses. In this review, I describe the development and application of our rotavirus reverse genetics system, and its future perspectives.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes