Detection and Molecular Epidemiology of Rotavirus by RNA Gel Electrophoresis

  • Lennart Svensson
Part of the Methods in Molecular Medicine™ book series (MIMM, volume 12)


Rotavirus has been recognized as the major etiological agent of acute gastroenteritis in infants and young children. The rotaviruses contain a genome of 11 segments of double-stranded RNA that can be separated into distinct bands by electrophoresis. The migration pattern of the 11 genome segments following electrophoresis of the viral RNA is called the RNA electropherotype. Electrophoretic separation of the segmented genome has gained popularity as a method not only for detection of rotavirus but also for molecular epidemiological studies (1,2). Most molecular epidemiological studies have analyzed rotaviruses by their electropherotype, since this marker is both characteristic and constant for a given virus strain, i.e., rotaviruses from different ammal species including human exhibit distinct electropherotypes. RNA gel electrophoresis is not only the most feasible way to detect and distinguish between different serogroups (A-G) of rotaviruses (3), but the technique can also be used to:

  1. 1.

    Characterize virus strains in large outbreaks;

  2. 2.

    Trace nosocomial outbreaks;

  3. 3.

    Determine how many virus strains circulate in a family, hospital, city, or country; and

  4. 4.

    Determine if specific virus strains are associated with specific disease.



Sodium Dodecyl Sulfate Silver Staining Silver Nitrate Solution Phenol Solution Molecular Epidemiological Study 
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Copyright information

© Humana Press Inc. 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • Lennart Svensson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Virology, Swedish Institute for Infectious Disease ControlKarolinska InstituteStockholmSweden

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