PIWIs Go Viral

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In a recent article in PLoS Pathogens, Pascal Miesen, Joep Joosten, and Ronald van Rij, theme Infectious diseases and global health  provide an overview of a novel class of viral RNAs - PIWI-interacting RNAs - in vector mosquitoes. Arthropod-borne viruses (arboviruses) such as Dengue, Zika, and Chikungunya virus are transmitted by the mosquito Aedes aegypti.

These mosquitoes carry high levels of virus without apparent fitness loss, and it is thought that the immune system of the mosquito controls virus replication to non-pathological levels. Insect immunity relies on the recognition of viral RNA and its degradation into small interfering RNAs (siRNAs).


The group recently found that viral RNA is also processed into another class of small RNAs, PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNAs). In this review, the authors provide an overview of the biogenesis and functions of this enigmatic class of small RNAs.

Publication: Link


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