Journal of NeuroVirology

, Volume 21, Issue 4, pp 335–345 | Cite as

Reverse genetics of rabies virus: new strategies to attenuate virus virulence for vaccine development

  • Shimao Zhu
  • Hui Li
  • Chunhua Wang
  • Farui Luo
  • Caiping Guo


Rabies is an ancient neurological disease that is almost invariably fatal once the clinical symptoms develop. Currently, prompt wound cleansing after exposing to a potentially rabid animal and vaccination using rabies vaccine combined with administration of rabies immune globulin are the only effective methods for post-exposure prophylaxis against rabies. Reverse genetic technique is a novel approach to investigate the function of a specific gene by analyzing the phenotypic effects through directly manipulating the gene sequences. It has revolutionized and provided a powerful tool to study the molecular biology of RNA viruses and has been widely used in rabies virus research. The attenuation of rabies virus virulence is the prerequisite for rabies vaccine development. Given the current challenge that sufficient and affordable high-quality vaccines are limited and lacking for global rabies prevention and control, highly cell-adapted, stable, and attenuated rabies viruses with broad cross-reactivity against different viral variants are ideal candidates for consideration to meet the need for human rabies control in the future. A number of approaches have been pursued to reduce the virulence of the virus and improve the safety of rabies vaccines. The application of reverse genetic technique has greatly advanced the engineering of rabies virus and paves the avenue for utilizing rabies virus for vaccine against rabies, viral vectors for exogenous antigen expression, and gene therapy in the future.


Rabies virus Reverse genetic technique Attenuation Vaccine 



We acknowledge support from Pres. Jincai Wang (Shenzhen Weiguang Biological Products Co., Ltd). This work was financially supported by Guangdong Engineering Research and Development Center.

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no competing interests.


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Copyright information

© Journal of NeuroVirology, Inc. 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shimao Zhu
    • 1
  • Hui Li
    • 1
  • Chunhua Wang
    • 1
  • Farui Luo
    • 1
  • Caiping Guo
    • 1
  1. 1.Shenzhen Weiguang Biological Products Co., Ltd.ShenzhenChina

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