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FEBS Lett. 2005 Oct 31;579(26):5965-73. Epub 2005 Aug 31.

Antiviral silencing in animals.

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Center for Plant Cell Biology, Institute for Integrative Genome Biology, Department of Plant Pathology, University of California, Riverside, CA 92521, USA.


RNA silencing or RNA interference (RNAi) refers to the small RNA-guided gene silencing mechanism conserved in a wide range of eukaryotic organisms from plants to mammals. As part of this special issue on the biology, mechanisms and applications of RNAi, here we review the recent advances on defining a role of RNAi in the responses of invertebrate and vertebrate animals to virus infection. Approximately 40 miRNAs and 10 RNAi suppressors encoded by diverse mammalian viruses have been identified. Assays used for the identification of viral suppressors and possible biological functions of both viral miRNAs and suppressors are discussed. We propose that herpes viral miRNAs may act as specificity factors to initiate heterochromatin assembly of the latent viral DNA genome in the nucleus.

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