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Science. 2002 May 17;296(5571):1270-3.

RNA-dependent RNA polymerases, viruses, and RNA silencing.

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  • 1Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Institute for Molecular Virology, 1525 Linden Drive, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI 53706, USA.


Most viruses have RNA genomes that are replicated and transcribed into messenger RNA by viral RNA-dependent RNA polymerases (RdRps), usually in concert with other viral and host factors. Many, if not most, eukaryotes also encode putative RdRps that have been implicated in sequence-specific, RNA-triggered gene silencing. Although the viral and cellular RdRps have no sequence homology, they share functional similarities such as copying messenger RNA templates and intercellular spread of the amplified sequences. Better understanding of viral and host RdRps will improve our ability to control viruses and to use RNA silencing and viruses as tools for research, biotechnology, and medicine.

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