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Dev Comp Immunol. 2007;31(6):539-47. Epub 2006 Oct 6.

Double-stranded RNA and antiviral immunity in marine shrimp: inducible host mechanisms and evidence for the evolution of viral counter-responses.

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  • 1Marine Biomedicine and Environmental Sciences Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 221 Fort, Johnson Road, Charleston, SC 29412, USA.


Double-stranded RNA (dsRNA) is a common virus-associated molecular pattern and a potent inducer of antiviral responses in many organisms. While it is clear that the specific RNA interference (RNAi) response, a phenomenon triggered by dsRNA, serves antiviral functions in invertebrates, innate (non-specific) antiviral immune reactions induced by dsRNA (e.g. the Interferon response) have long been thought to be restricted to vertebrates. Recent work in an underappreciated experimental model, the penaeid shrimp, is challenging these traditional distinctions, by demonstrating the existence of both innate (non sequence-specific) and RNAi-related (sequence-specific) antiviral phenomena in crustacea. Here we discuss the evidence for this bivalent role of dsRNA in the initiation of antiviral responses in shrimp, and present new data that suggest that the antiviral functions of the shrimp RNAi machinery have imposed selective pressures on an evolving viral pathogen. These findings open the door for the discovery of novel mechanisms of innate immunity, and provide a basis for the future development of strategies to control viral diseases in the commercially important penaeid shrimp.

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