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Open Access Highly Accessed Opinion

RNAi in the regulation of mammalian viral infections

Kuan-Teh Jeang

Author affiliations

The National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, MD 20892-0460, USA

Citation and License

BMC Biology 2012, 10:58  doi:10.1186/1741-7007-10-58

Published: 26 June 2012

Abstract

Although RNA interference (RNAi) is known to play an important part in defense against viruses of invertebrates, its contribution to mammalian anti-viral defense has been a matter of dispute. This is surprising because all components of the RNAi machinery necessary for robust RNAi-mediated restriction of viruses are conserved in mammals, and the introduction of synthetic small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) into cells efficiently silences the replication of viruses that contain siRNA complementary sequences in those cells. Here, I discuss the reasons for the dispute, and review the evidence that RNAi is a part of the physiological defense of mammalian cells against viral infections.