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Trends Parasitol. 2011 Nov;27(11):481-6. doi: 10.1016/ Epub 2011 Aug 15.

Apicomplexan parasites and subversion of the host cell microRNA pathway.

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Unité Mixte de Recherche 5163, Laboratoire Adaptation et Pathogénie des Micro-organismes, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS)-Université Joseph Fourier Grenoble 1, BP 170, F-38042 Grenoble CEDEX 9, France. (


RNA silencing plays a major role in innate antiviral and antibacterial defenses in plants, insects, and animals through the action of microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs can act in favor of the microorganism, either when it is pathogen-encoded or when the microorganism subverts host miRNAs to its benefit. Recent data point to the possibility that apicomplexan parasites have developed tactics to interfere with host miRNA populations in a parasite-specific manner, thereby identifying the RNA-silencing pathway as a new means to reshape their cellular environment. This review highlights the current understanding and new insights concerning the mechanisms that could be involved and the potential roles of the host microRNome (miRNome) in apicomplexan infection.

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