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Appl Microbiol Biotechnol. 2005 Jun;67(4):429-35. Epub 2005 Feb 10.

About the nature of RNA interference.

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Sanofi-Aventis Deutschland, Biocenter H 780, Industriepark Höchst, Frankfurt am Main.


In the context of yet unclarified issues of RNA interference (RNAi), it is discussed that RNAi-induced histone modification may not only have the purpose of inactivating native genes by blocking their transcription in the sense direction but may also simultaneously trigger transcription of the corresponding antisense strand to form double-stranded RNA for posttranscriptional gene-silencing in cells lacking RNA replicase activities. Invading foreign genetic traits may be posttranscriptionally silenced through complementary transcripts from specific, highly variable genomic regions, which are able to finally match any given sequence by the appropriate recombination and processing of their transcripts. The information to fight these traits may additionally become anchored in the genome, to provide at least a temporary "immunity" and may be inherited at least for a few generations. It is further proposed that: (1) RNA viruses evolved from constituents of the RNAi machinery through the capture of functions essential for their maintenance and replication and (2) viruses and RNAi are mutually interacting components of a universal and predominant genetic steering system that is involved in the modulation of gene expression on the cellular level and simultaneously constitutes a driving force for evolution, particularly in imperfect organisms. Such a model would deliver explanations for yet unresolved issues of RNAi, the clarification of which will have a significant impact on its future medical and biotechnological application.

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