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Molecular Aspects of RNA Viruses (MRV)


Molecular Aspects of RNA Viruses
Up to date schedule information

Elective course in MSc Life Science and Technology and MSc Chemistry

Admission requirements

Bachelor completed in Life Science & Technology, Molecular Science & Technology, Biopharmaceutical Sciences, or Biology. Students must have followed the course Molecular Genetics I or a similar course dealing with basic aspects of replication, transcription and translation, DNA, RNA and protein structure.


The course deals with the fundamental aspects of virus replication with emphasis on RNA viruses. Topics addressed include discovery and classification of viruses, virus structure, viral entry pathways, translation and replication strategies, encapsidation, egress and evolution. These topics are illustrated by examples of HIV, influenza virus, coronavirus, poliovirus, plant viruses and bacterial viruses. Anti-viral strategies and applications are also discussed.

Course objectives

Learning the basis of virus classification and be able to sketch the important steps in the viral life cycle. Deduction of symmetry number of viruses. Understanding the various tricks that viruses use to express their genes. How to study and manipulate RNA viruses. How to tackle and interfere with viral replication. In the end the student will be able to predict the effect of certain mutations on the replication of a virus and how to test this prediction experimentally.


First part of the course deals with lectures on the important steps in the viral life cycle and is concluded by the writing of an essay about one virus. The second part discusses several viruses in more detail including ways to study their replication and evolution. This part is concluded by two assignments dealing with the effect of a mutation on the replication of two viruses. Course ends with a short exam.

Mode of instruction


Assessment method

Final grade is made up of three parts (45%, 25%, 30%):
1. Writing of a mini-review devoted to one single virus addressing all the steps in its life cycle (~1500 words).
2. Assignments on two viruses. Approximately one A4 per assignment.
3. Short exam covering aspects discussed in the lectures.


Powerpoint presentation is posted on Blackboard after each lecture.

Reading list

Optional: Principles of Virology: Molecular Biology, Pathogenesis, and Control of Animal Viruses, 2nd Edition. S. J. Flint, L. W. Enquist, V. R. Racaniello, A. M. Skalka.


Exchange and Study Abroad students, please see the “Prospective students website”: for information on how to apply.