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An antiviral role for the RNA interference machinery in Caenorhabditis elegans.

RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific gene-silencing mechanism triggered by exogenous dsRNA. In plants an RNAi-like mechanism defends against viruses, but the hypothesis that animals possess a similar natural antiviral mechanism related to RNAi remains relatively untested. To test whether genes needed for RNAi defend animal cells against virus infection, we infected wild-type and RNAi-defective cells of the nematode C. elegans with vesicular stomatitis virus engineered to encode a GFP fusion protein. We show that upon infection, cells lacking components of the RNAi apparatus produce more GFP and infective particles than wild-type cells. Furthermore, we show that mutant cells with enhanced RNAi produce less GFP. Our observation that multiple genes required for RNAi are also required for resistance to vesicular stomatitis virus suggests that the RNAi machinery functions in resistance to viruses in nature.

Pubmed ID: 16339901


  • Schott DH
  • Cureton DK
  • Whelan SP
  • Hunter CP


Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

Publication Data

December 20, 2005

Associated Grants

  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: AI059371
  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: R01 AI059371
  • Agency: NIAID NIH HHS, Id: R01 AI059371-01A1
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R01 GM069891
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R01 GM069891
  • Agency: NIGMS NIH HHS, Id: R01 GM069891-04

Mesh Terms

  • Animals
  • Caenorhabditis elegans
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Genes, Reporter
  • Mutation
  • RNA Interference
  • Rhabdoviridae Infections
  • Vesicular stomatitis Indiana virus