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Molecular Aspects of RNA Viruses (MRV)


Admission requirements

Elective course in MSc Life Science and Technology and MSc Chemistry
For students with a BSc in LST, MST, BFW, Biology or equivalent. 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. 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 three assignments dealing with the effect of a mutation on the replication of three viruses from diverse backgrounds.

Course objectives

At the end of the course students

  • have knowledge of fundamental principles of virology

  • know the basis of virus classification and be able to sketch the important steps in the viral life cycle.

  • can deduce of symmetry number of virus particles.

  • understand the various tricks that viruses use to express their genes.

  • know how to study and manipulate RNA viruses.

  • know how to tackle and interfere with viral replication.

  • are able to predict the effect of certain mutations on the replication of a virus and how to test this prediction experimentally.

  • are able to digest scientific papers on the topic of viruses and write a summary or essay.


Schedule information can be found on the website of the programmes. Assignment deadlines are communicated via Brightspace.

Mode of instruction

Lectures (pre-recorded or via Kaltura in case of coronavirus measures)

Assessment method

Open source exam (online in case of coronavirus measures) devoted to one single virus addressing all the steps in its life cycle (50%) and two home assignments on two other viruses (50%). The viruses are allocated to students by a lottery system.

Reading list

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. (optional)
Powerpoint presentation is posted on Brightspace after each lecture.


Register for this course via uSis


Dr. René Olsthoorn


According to OER article 4.8, students are entitled to view their marked examination for a period of 30 days following the publication of the results of a written examination. Students should contact the lecturer to make an appointment for such an inspection session.