Inhibition of avian leukosis virus replication by RNA interference using miRNAs
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Avian leukosis virus (ALV) is a tumor-inducing retrovirus that threatens agricultural chicken populations. Though no effective vaccine currently exists, RNA interference (RNAi) is a developing tool that can be effective at inhibiting viral replication by reducing expression of genes necessary for viral replication. First, a replication competent miRNA vector is tested in avian cells and found to reduce expression of targeted genes by approximately 90%. To inhibit ALV replication, we modified the miRNA to silence the env gene of the Rous-associated virus-2 (RA V -2) strain of ALV(B), necessary for viral entry into host cells. This successfully resulted in decreased expression of the envelope protein SU(B), encoded by env. Delivery of the modified miRNA in a defective lentiviral vector, a necessary precaution to test ALV(B) inhibition, slowed viral spread early on and at low multiplicity of infection (MOl), though this effect is lost with time and increased MOL In the future, improved delivery of the modified miRNA into cells for challenge by AL V(B) should greatly increase inhibition of viral replication.