The Antiviral Role of RNA Interference in Mammals

The antiviral role of RNA interference (RNAi) has been well established in plant and lower animal systems. The goal of this research is to determine if RNAi is an important defense against viruses infecting mammals. Most plant-infecting viruses encode suppressors of RNAi to ensure host invasion. We are systematically screening several animal virus genomes in collaboration with other NCV researchers for the presence of genes with RNAi suppressor activity. The viruses to be tested include a Rhabdovirus (VSV) in collaboration with the Pattnaik lab, a Flavivirus (Dengue) in collaboration with the Zhang lab, a member of the Arteriviridae (PRRSV) in collaboration with the Osorio lab and Human papillomavirus (HPV) in collaboration with the Angeletti lab. Two different approaches will be used to test the central hypothesis that RNAi is an integral part of the complex antiviral defense system in mammals. First, a plant based transient assay will be used to screen proteins from various mammal-infecting viruses for potential suppressors. Second, animal cell lines stably expressing p19, a suppressor with cross-kingdom silencing suppression activity, will be generated and screened for enhanced susceptibility to the different mammalian cell infecting viruses.

morris qu