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Silencing SARS-CoV Spike protein expression in cultured cells by RNA interference

Abstract: The severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) has been one of the most epidemic diseases threatening human health all over the world. Based on clinical studies, SARS-CoV (the SARS-associated coronavirus), a novel coronavirus, is reported as the pathogen responsible for the disease. To date, no effective and specific therapeutic method can be used to treat patients suffering from SARS-CoV infection. RNA interference (RNAi) is a process by which the introduced small interfering RNA (siRNA) could cause the degradation of mRNA with identical sequence specificity. The RNAi methodology has been used as a tool to silence genes in cultured cells and in animals. Recently, this technique was employed in anti-virus infections in human immunodeficiency virus and hepatitis C/B virus. In this study, RNAi technology has been applied to explore the possibility for prevention of SARS-CoV infection. We constructed specific siRNAs targeting the S gene in SARS-CoV. We demonstrated that the siRNAs could effectively and specifically inhibit gene expression of Spike protein in SARS-CoV-infected cells. Our study provided evidence that RNAi could be a tool for inhibition of SARS-CoV.
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