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Inhibition of Monkeypox virus replication by RNA interference

Author(s): Alkhalil Abdulnaser | Strand Sarah | Mucker Eric | Huggins John | Jahrling Peter | Ibrahim Sofi

Journal: Virology Journal
ISSN 1743-422X

Volume: 6;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 188;
Date: 2009;
Original page

Abstract The Orthopoxvirus genus of Poxviridae family is comprised of several human pathogens, including cowpox (CPXV), Vaccinia (VACV), monkeypox (MPV) and Variola (VARV) viruses. Species of this virus genus cause human diseases with various severities and outcome ranging from mild conditions to death in fulminating cases. Currently, vaccination is the only protective measure against infection with these viruses and no licensed antiviral drug therapy is available. In this study, we investigated the potential of RNA interference pathway (RNAi) as a therapeutic approach for orthopox virus infections using MPV as a model. Based on genome-wide expression studies and bioinformatic analysis, we selected 12 viral genes and targeted them by small interference RNA (siRNA). Forty-eight siRNA constructs were developed and evaluated in vitro for their ability to inhibit viral replication. Two genes, each targeted with four different siRNA constructs in one pool, were limiting to viral replication. Seven siRNA constructs from these two pools, targeting either an essential gene for viral replication (A6R) or an important gene in viral entry (E8L), inhibited viral replication in cell culture by 65-95% with no apparent cytotoxicity. Further analysis with wild-type and recombinant MPV expressing green fluorescence protein demonstrated that one of these constructs, siA6-a, was the most potent and inhibited viral replication for up to 7 days at a concentration of 10 nM. These results emphasis the essential role of A6R gene in viral replication, and demonstrate the potential of RNAi as a therapeutic approach for developing oligonucleotide-based drug therapy for MPV and other orthopox viruses.

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