Background: West Nile virus is an emerging human pathogen for which specific antiviral therapy has not been developed. Recent studies have suggested that RNA interference (RNAi) has therapeutic potential as a sequence specific inhibitor of viral infection. Here, we examine the ability of exogenous small interfering RNAs (siRNAs) to block the replication of West Nile virus in human cells. Results: WNV replication and infection was greatly reduced when siRNA were introduced by cytoplasmic-targeted transfection prior to but not after the establishment of viral replication. WNV appeared to evade rather than actively block the RNAi machinery, as sequence-specific reduction in protein expression of a heterologous transgene was still observed in WNV-infected cells. However, sequence-specific decreases in WNV RNA were observed in cells undergoing active viral replication when siRNA was transfected by an alternate method, electroporation. Conclusion: Our results suggest that actively replicating WNV RNA may not be exposed to the cytoplasmic RNAi machinery. Thus, conventional lipid-based siRNA delivery systems may not be adequate for therapy against enveloped RNA viruses that replicate in specialized membrane compartments.

Original languageEnglish
JournalVirology Journal
StatePublished - Jun 28 2005


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