Send to

Choose Destination
Med Hypotheses. 2008;70(6):1179-81. Epub 2007 Dec 21.

RNAi-mediated gene silencing as a principle of action of venoms and poisons.

Author information

Department of Medical Genetics, Faculty of Medical Sciences, Tessália Vieira de Camargo, 126, University of Campinas, 13084 971 Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil.


RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural phenomenon in which double-stranded RNA molecules (dsRNAs) promote silencing of genes with similar sequence. It is noteworthy that in some instances the effects of gene silencing are similar to those caused by venoms and natural poisons (e.g., hemorrhage and low blood pressure). This observation raises the possibility that venomous/poisonous species in fact produce dsRNAs in their venoms/poisons and leading to the deleterious effects in the victim by RNAi-mediated gene silencing. Two approaches could be used to test this hypothesis, first, the neutralization of the dsRNAs and comparing to a non-treated venom sample; and second, to identify the dsRNA present in the venom and attempt to artificially reproduce its effects in the laboratory. In addition, we present three innovative treatment strategies for accidental interactions with venomous or poisonous species. RNAi has several roles in biological systems: gene regulation, antiviral defense, transposon silencing and heterochromatin formation. The hypothesis presented here provides a new role: a natural attack mechanism.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Elsevier Science
Loading ...
Support Center