PerspectiveMolecular Biology

RNAi, Antiviral After All

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Science  11 Oct 2013:
Vol. 342, Issue 6155, pp. 207-208
DOI: 10.1126/science.1245475

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RNA interference (RNAi) is an evolutionarily conserved pathway in cells for potent and specific silencing of gene expression. It is triggered by the accumulation of double-stranded RNA (dsRNA), which is subsequently processed into small interfering RNA (siRNA) and taken up into a protein complex that silences genes by cleaving their complementary RNAs (1). This mechanism has an important function in immunity against viruses in infected plants and invertebrates, but whether this is true in mammals has been widely debated (2). On pages 235 and 231 of this issue, Maillard et al. (3) and Li et al. (4) provide evidence for the existence of a functional antiviral RNAi pathway in mammalian cells.