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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

The reverse genetics applied to fish RNA viruses

Stéphane Biacchesi

Author Affiliations

Unité de Virologie et Immunologie Moléculaires, INRA, CRJ, 78352 Jouy-en-Josas, France

Veterinary Research 2011, 42:12  doi:10.1186/1297-9716-42-12

Published: 24 January 2011

Abstract

Aquaculture has expanded rapidly to become a major economic and food-producing sector worldwide these last 30 years. In parallel, viral diseases have emerged and rapidly spread from farm to farm causing enormous economic losses. The most problematic viruses encountered in the field are mainly, but not exclusively, RNA viruses belonging to the Novirhabdovirus, Aquabirnavirus, Alphavirus and Betanodavirus genera. The recent establishment of reverse genetics systems to recover infectious fish RNA viruses entirely from cDNA has made possible to genetically manipulate the viral genome. These systems have provided powerful tools to study all aspects of the virus biology and virus-host interactions but also gave the opportunity to use these viruses as live vaccines or as gene vectors. This review provides an overview on the recent breakthroughs achieved by using these reverse genetics systems in terms of viral protein function, virulence and host-specificity factor, vaccine development and vector design.