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FEBS Lett. 2006 May 22;580(12):2896-902. Epub 2006 Mar 6.

The interplay between virus infection and the cellular RNA interference machinery.

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Department of Human Retrovirology, K3-110, Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Meibergdreef 15, 1105 AZ, Amsterdam, The Netherlands.


RNA interference (RNAi) plays a pivotal role in the regulation of gene expression to control cell development and differentiation. In plants, insects and nematodes RNAi also functions as an innate defence response against viruses. Similarly, there is accumulating evidence that RNAi functions as an antiviral defence mechanism in mammalian cells. Viruses have evolved highly sophisticated mechanisms for interacting with the host cell machinery, and recent evidence indicates that this also involves RNAi pathways. The cellular RNAi machinery can inhibit virus replication, but viruses may also exploit the RNAi machinery for their own replication. In addition, viruses can encode proteins or RNA molecules that suppress existing RNAi pathways or trigger the silencing of specific host genes. Besides the natural interplay between RNAi and viruses, induced RNAi provides an attractive therapy approach for the fight against human pathogenic viruses. Here, we summarize the latest news on virus-RNAi interactions and RNAi based antiviral therapy.

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