Send to

Choose Destination
Electrophoresis. 1995 Mar;16(3):329-33.

Molecular epidemiology of respiratory syncytial virus: a review of the use of reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction in the analysis of genetic variability.

Author information

Department of Biological Sciences, University of Warwick, Coventry, England.


Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) is the major viral cause of lower respiratory tract disease (bronchiolitis and pneumonia) in babies and infants. Infections with the virus occur as annual winter epidemics in temperate climates, placing considerable pressure on the provision of hospital beds. The virus is unusual in that it can reinfect individuals and it can infect babies despite the presence of maternal antibody. RSV has a negative sense nonsegmented RNA genome and as such is liable to high levels of mutation. This paper describes methods developed to determine the degree of genetic variability of the virus both during individual epidemics and worldwide. It is necessary for these methods to be quick, easy and cheap so that large numbers of samples can be analysed readily. They are based on extraction of viral RNA directly from clinical samples or from viral cultures, reverse transcription of the viral RNA, and then amplification of selected regions of the genome by the polymerase chain reaction (PCR). PCR products are then analysed by restriction mapping, or, if necessary, direct nucleotide sequencing. In this way isolates of RSV have been shown to fall into a number of genotypes, with epidemics being made up of cocirculating genotypes whose relative proportions vary with each epidemic. An understanding of the molecular epidemiology of this important human pathogen will be of significance in the search for an effective vaccine.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Loading ...
Support Center