Chemical Synthesis of Poliovirus cDNA: Generation of Infectious Virus in the Absence of Natural Template
Full-length poliovirus complementary DNA (cDNA) was synthesized by assembling oligonucleotides of plus and minus strand polarity. The synthetic poliovirus cDNA was transcribed by RNA polymerase into viral RNA, which translated and replicated in a cell-free extract, resulting in the de novo synthesis of infectious poliovirus. Experiments in tissue culture using neutralizing antibodies and CD155 receptor-specific antibodies and neurovirulence tests in CD155 transgenic mice confirmed that the synthetic virus had biochemical and pathogenic characteristics of poliovirus. Our results show that it is possible to synthesize an infectious agent by in vitro chemical-biochemical means solely by following instructions from a written sequence.