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Adv Virus Res. 2009;75:35-71. doi: 10.1016/S0065-3527(09)07502-2. Epub 2010 Jan 13.

RNA silencing: an antiviral mechanism.

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Agricultural Biotechnology Center, Plant Biology Institute, H-2101 Gödöllõ, Hungary.


RNA silencing is an evolutionarily conserved sequence-specific gene-inactivation system that also functions as an antiviral mechanism in higher plants and insects. To overcome antiviral RNA silencing, viruses express silencing-suppressor proteins which can counteract the host silencing-based antiviral process. After the discovery of virus-encoded silencing suppressors, it was shown that these viral proteins can target one or more key points in the silencing machinery. Here we review recent progress in our understanding of the mechanism and function of antiviral RNA silencing in plants, and on the virus's counterattack by expression of silencing-suppressor proteins. We also discuss emerging evidence that RNA silencing and expression of viral silencing-suppressor proteins are tools forged as a consequence of virus-host coevolution for fine-tuning host-pathogen coexistence.

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