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Influenza reverse genetics: dissecting immunity and pathogenesis

  • Siying Ye (a1) (a2), Justin G. Evans (a1) (a2) and John Stambas (a1) (a2)


Reverse genetics systems allow artificial generation of non-segmented and segmented negative-sense RNA viruses, like influenza viruses, entirely from cloned cDNA. Since the introduction of reverse genetics systems over a decade ago, the ability to generate ‘designer’ influenza viruses in the laboratory has advanced both basic and applied research, providing a powerful tool to investigate and characterise host–pathogen interactions and advance the development of novel therapeutic strategies. The list of applications for reverse genetics has expanded vastly in recent years. In this review, we discuss the development and implications of this technique, including the recent controversy surrounding the generation of a transmissible H5N1 influenza virus. We will focus on research involving the identification of viral protein function, development of live-attenuated influenza virus vaccines, host–pathogen interactions, immunity and the generation of recombinant influenza virus vaccine vectors for the prevention and treatment of infectious diseases and cancer.


Corresponding author

*Corresponding author: Siying Ye, AAHL CSIRO Deakin Collaborative (ACDC) Biosecurity Laboratory, Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL), CSIRO, 5 Portarlington Road, East Geelong, VIC 3219, Australia. E-mail:


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