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Biochem Mol Biol Educ. 2011 Nov-Dec;39(6):426-31. doi: 10.1002/bmb.20530.

An exercise in molecular epidemiology: human rhinovirus prevalence and genetics.

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Chemistry Department, Lawrence University, Appleton, WI 54911, USA.


Human rhinovirus (HRV) is one of the most common human respiratory pathogens and is responsible for the majority of upper respiratory illnesses. Recently, a phylogeny was constructed from all known American Type Culture Collection (ATCC) HRV sequences. From this study, three HRV classifications (HRVA, HRVB, and HRVC) were determined and techniques for classifying new isolates of HRV were reported. The genetic change of this virus in specific populations over time is of great interest to understand the evolution and epidemiology of viruses. To facilitate the collections of HRV sequences over a number of years, a virology experiment was designed in which students test nasal lavage samples to look for HRV infection. Students will learn a variety of techniques including RNA isolation, cDNA synthesis, qPCR, and agarose gel electrophoresis as well as bioinformatic skills though examination of sequences from the HRV-field isolates. Furthermore, students can look at symptom data from subjects to investigate correlations between symptom severity and factors such as stress and sleep patterns. Such information can be used to examine hypotheses regarding HRV mutation, symptom severity and epidemiology.

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