RNA silencing as a cellular defense against HIV-1 infection: Progress and issues

Viraj R. Sanghvi, Laura F. Steel

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are known to have a role in gene regulation that is closely integrated into the pathways that control virtually all fundamental cell processes of growth, differentiation, metabolism, and death. Whether silencing RNAs and the cellular pathways that generate them are also used in antiviral defense in higher eukaryotes, as they are in plants and lower eukaryotes, has been the subject of much study. Results to date point to a complex interplay between viruses and vertebrate host cells that can vary considerably among different viruses. Here, we review current knowledge regarding interactions between HIV-1 and host cell RNA silencing mechanisms. Important questions in this field remain unresolved, including whether HIV-1 itself encodes small silencing RNAs that might either promote or repress its replication, whether host cell miRNAs can directly target viral transcripts or can alter the course of infection indirectly through effects on cellular genes necessary for viral replication, and whether HIV-1 produces proteins or RNAs that suppress the host-silencing pathway. We summarize evidence and controversies related to the potential role of RNA silencing pathways as a defense against HIV-1 infection.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3937-3945
Number of pages9
JournalFASEB Journal
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Antiviral response
  • TAT
  • TRBP

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Genetics


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