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Genetics and Molecular Biology

versão impressa ISSN 1415-4757


SECOLIN, Rodrigo; PASCOAL, Vinícius D'Ávila Bitencourt; LOPES-CENDES, Iscia  e  PEREIRA, Tiago Campos. Analysis of energetically biased transcripts of viruses and transposable elements. Genet. Mol. Biol. [online]. 2012, vol.35, n.4, pp.868-873.  Epub 13-Nov-2012. ISSN 1415-4757.

RNA interference (RNAi) is a natural endogenous process by which double-stranded RNA molecules trigger potent and specific gene silencing in eukaryotic cells and is characterized by target RNA cleavage. In mammals, small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) are the trigger molecules of choice and constitute a new class of RNA-based antiviral agents. In an efficient RNAi response, the antisense strand of siRNAs must enter the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) in a process mediated by thermodynamic features. In this report, we hypothesize that silent mutations capable of inverting thermodynamic properties can promote resistance to siRNAs. Extensive computational analyses were used to assess whether continuous selective pressure that promotes such mutations could lead to the emergence of viral strains completely resistant to RNAi (i.e., prone to transfer only the sense strands to RISC). Based on our findings, we propose that, although synonymous mutations may produce functional resistance, this strategy cannot be systematically adopted by viruses since the longest RNAi-refractory sequence is only 10 nt long. This finding also suggests that all mRNAs display fluctuating thermodynamic landscapes and that, in terms of thermodynamic features, RNAi is a very efficient antiviral system since there will always be sites susceptible to siRNAs.

Palavras-chave : RNAi; siRNA; synonymous mutation; viral evolution.

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