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Virology. 2006 Jan 5;344(1):151-7.

Interaction of viruses with the mammalian RNA interference pathway.

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Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Stanford University School of Medicine, Stanford, CA 94305, USA.


It has been known for some time that plants and insects use RNA interference (RNAi) as nucleic acid-based immunity against viral infections. However, it was unknown whether mammalian cells employ the RNA interference pathway as an antiviral mechanism as well. Over the past years, it has become clear that a variety of viruses, first in plants but recently in insect and mammalian viruses as well, encode suppressors of the RNAi pathway arguing for an antiviral role of this machinery. More recent findings have revealed that certain viruses encode their own microRNAs or microRNA-like RNA molecules, which are processed by the mammalian RNAi machinery. Furthermore, host-encoded microRNAs have been shown to both silence and enhance intracellular levels of viral RNAs. These findings argue that interactions between the RNAi pathway and viral genomes can profoundly affect the outcomes of the viral life cycles and contribute to the pathogenic signatures of the infectious agents.

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