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The anti-viral function of RNA silencing was first discovered in plants as a natural manifestation of the artificial 'co-suppression', which refers to the extinction of endogenous gene induced by homologous transgene. Because silencing components are conserved among most, if not all, eukaryotes, the question rapidly arose as to determine whether this process fulfils anti-viral functions in animals, such as insects and mammals. It appears that, whereas the anti-viral process seems to be similarly conserved from plants to insects, even in worms, RNA silencing does influence the replication of mammalian viruses but in a particular mode: micro(mi)RNAs, endogenous small RNAs naturally implicated in translational control, rather than virus-derived small interfering (si)RNAs like in other organisms, are involved. In fact, these recent studies even suggest that RNA silencing may be beneficial for viral replication. Accordingly, several large DNA mammalian viruses have been shown to encode their own miRNAs. Here, we summarize the seminal studies that have implicated RNA silencing in viral infection and compare the different eukaryotic responses. © 2006 Saumet and Lecellier; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
Saumet, A., & Lecellier, C. H. (2006, January 12). Anti-viral RNA silencing: Do we look like plants? Retrovirology. https://doi.org/10.1186/1742-4690-3-3