siRNA and miRNA pathways in pathogenesis of RNA viruses and cellular response
Andrew Fire, Stanford University
Cellular processes utilizing small RNAs as guides have been shown to function in potent and specific defense mechanisms protecting plant and invertebrate cells from pathogenesis by RNA viruses. Although vertebrate systems also use small RNA effectors and share much of the protein machinery for small-RNA-based regulation, and although disrupting this machinery affects replication of some vertebrate RNA viruses, the relevant RNA effectors and their roles in viral infection and host response remain to be elucidated. We describe recent data demonstrating that infection of vertebrate cells by several animal RNA viruses leads to production of virus-derived small RNA pools. The proposed experiments address roles for such small RNAs and characterize their place in host-virus interactions, in particular in infections in which there is evidence for a critical balance between viral replication and host response.