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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Discovery of mammalian genes that participate in virus infection

Edward L Organ123, Jinsong Sheng23, H Earl Ruley3 and Donald H Rubin123*

Author Affiliations

1 Research Medicine, VA Tennessee Valley Healthcare System, Nashville, TN, USA

2 Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

3 Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Vanderbilt University, Nashville, TN, USA

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BMC Cell Biology 2004, 5:41  doi:10.1186/1471-2121-5-41

Published: 2 November 2004



Viruses are obligate intracellular parasites that rely upon the host cell for different steps in their life cycles. The characterization of cellular genes required for virus infection and/or cell killing will be essential for understanding viral life cycles, and may provide cellular targets for new antiviral therapies.


Candidate genes required for lytic reovirus infection were identified by tagged sequence mutagenesis, a process that permits rapid identification of genes disrupted by gene entrapment. One hundred fifty-one reovirus resistant clones were selected from cell libraries containing 2 × 105 independently disrupted genes, of which 111 contained mutations in previously characterized genes and functionally anonymous transcription units. Collectively, the genes associated with reovirus resistance differed from genes targeted by random gene entrapment in that known mutational hot spots were under represented, and a number of mutations appeared to cluster around specific cellular processes, including: IGF-II expression/signalling, vesicular transport/cytoskeletal trafficking and apoptosis. Notably, several of the genes have been directly implicated in the replication of reovirus and other viruses at different steps in the viral lifecycle.


Tagged sequence mutagenesis provides a rapid, genome-wide strategy to identify candidate cellular genes required for virus infection. The candidate genes provide a starting point for mechanistic studies of cellular processes that participate in the virus lifecycle and may provide targets for novel anti-viral therapies.