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Abstract

Adaptive antiviral immunity in plants is an RNA-based mechanism in which small RNAs derived from both strands of the viral RNA are guides for an Argonaute (AGO) nuclease. The primed AGO specifically targets and silences the viral RNA. In plants this system has diversified to involve mobile small interfering RNAs (siRNAs), an amplification system involving secondary siRNAs and targeting mechanisms involving DNA methylation. Most, if not all, plant viruses encode multifunctional proteins that are suppressors of RNA silencing that may also influence the innate immune system and fine-tune the virus-host interaction. Animal viruses similarly trigger RNA silencing, although it may be masked in differentiated cells by the interferon system and by the action of the virus-encoded suppressor proteins. There is huge potential for RNA silencing to combat viral disease in crops, farm animals, and people, although there are complications associated with the various strategies for siRNA delivery including transgenesis. Alternative approaches could include using breeding or small molecule treatment to enhance the inherent antiviral capacity of infected cells.

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2022-09-29
2024-06-21
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