Defective viral genomes (DVGs) are generated during viral replication and are unable to carry out a full replication cycle unless coinfected with a full-length virus. DVGs are produced by many viruses, and their presence correlates with alterations in infection outcomes. Historically, DVGs were studied for their ability to interfere with standard virus replication as well as for their association with viral persistence. More recently, a critical role for DVGs in inducing the innate immune response during infection was appreciated. Here we review the role of DVGs of RNA viruses in shaping outcomes of experimental as well as natural infections and explore the mechanisms by which DVGs impact infection outcome.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)547-566
Number of pages20
JournalAnnual Review of Virology
StatePublished - Sep 29 2019


  • antiviral immunity
  • defective interfering particles
  • defective viral genomes
  • defective virus
  • viral interference


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