Slicing and dicing viruses: antiviral RNA interference in mammals

Journal Article: EMBO JournalYear Published: (2019) Volume Number: 38, Article Number: e100941


Maillard,Pierre V; van der Veen,Annemarthe G; Poirier,Enzo Z; Reis e Sousa,Caetano

To protect against the harmful consequences of viral infections, organisms are equipped with sophisticated antiviral mechanisms, including cell-intrinsic means to restrict viral replication and propagation. Plant and invertebrate cells utilise mostly RNA interference (RNAi), an RNA-based mechanism, for cell-intrinsic immunity to viruses while vertebrates rely on the protein-based interferon (IFN)-driven innate immune system for the same purpose. The RNAi machinery is conserved in vertebrate cells, yet whether antiviral RNAi is still active in mammals and functionally relevant to mammalian antiviral defence is intensely debated. Here, we discuss cellular and viral factors that impact on antiviral RNAi and the contexts in which this system might be at play in mammalian resistance to viral infection.