IBBM   21076
Unidad Ejecutora - UE
Current Issues in Molecular Virology - Viral Genetics and Biotechnological Applications
InTech (University Campus STeP Ri Slavka Krautzeka 83/A 51000 Rijeka, Croatia)
Lugar: Rijeka; Año: 2013 p. 285
Viruses are essentially itinerating genomes conveniently packaged in protein shell structures, sometimes surrounded by lipid membranes derived from the host cells they highjack in order to reproduce. In fact, being able to introduce a discrete number of genes in a cell, viruses made their enormous contribution to the exploration of mechanisms of genome replication and gene expression long before the advent of recombinant DNA technology. Studies on phages that infect bacteria built a significant body of knowledge in the early years of molecular biology. In parallel, active research was oriented at viruses that cause diseases in humans, other animals and plants (one chapter of this book deals with citrus tristeza virus). In particular, medical virology has been by far the preeminent area of interest. Efforts have been made aimed at curing and preventing viral diseases that caused large numbers of victims long before their viral etiology was recognized. In Europe 400,000 people died annually of smallpox in the 18th century. Based upon observation and empirical trials a vaccination procedure was devised to prevent this dreadful infection that caused high morbidity and mortality. Vaccination was likely practiced in Africa, India, and China long before the 18th century, when it was introduced to Europe. Edward Jenner?s work represented the first scientific attempt to control an infectious disease by the deliberate use of vaccination. Strictly speaking, he did not discover vaccination but was the first person to confer scientific status on the procedure and to pursue its scientific investigation. Biological sciences have gone a long way since then. Molecular biology of viruses (after all, viruses are more or less complex associations of macromolecules) and studies on virus-host interactions have provided a wealth of knowledge that helps designing different prevention strategies aimed at innate and adaptive immune responses. Several chapters of this book focus on viral protein complexes, gene expression, nucleotide sequences and genetic constelations in viral populations related with the design and production of new immunogens, and establishment of vaccination schemes to prevent viral diseases. Drifting away from the human victims of viral diseases, it is worth mentioning that the prosperous silk industry in China drove attention to an economically relevant viral infection of the silk worm (Bombyx mori) starting a chase for the pathogen that affected the silk production. Three chapters in this book deal with viruses that belong to the family responsible for the economical losses of the silk industry: Baculoviridae. The studies on baculoviruses range from pathogenesis to viral genomics and gene expression, and most of the members are regarded more as friends than threats; the biology of baculoviruses has been harnessed for diverse applications such as microbial pest control, protein expression and gene transduction. Alternative gene transduction strategies are dealt with in the chapter summarizing different gene delivery systems. Advances in molecular virology have paved the way to alternative novel vaccine and gene therapy strategies. In summary, this book is only a small collection of chapters dealing with examples of RNA and DNA viruses, and issues such as how these ´gene packages´ have learnt to take advantage of their hosts, molecular recognition events that hosts may use to counterattack the viruses, and how researchers have developed strategies to use viruses or their parts as tools for different purposes.