• Question: How do you actually make mutant flu viruses?

    Asked by ford22 to Holly on 13 Jun 2011. This question was also asked by straders102, matthewbakerwtflolz, silvest234.
    • Photo: Holly Shelton

      Holly Shelton answered on 13 Jun 2011:

      Flu has 8 RNA gene segments in its genome so to make flu viruses in the lab we make copies of the virus RNA and put it into cells. These RNAs can then make viruses inside these cells. So to make mutant viruses we can mix up the gene segments from bird flu, pig flu, horse flu or human flu. We can also make specfic protein mutations in the virus proteins by introducing different nucleotides into the virus RNA we put into the cells so that when the virus comes together in cells it makes a different protein.