What is it about?

The paper is about how some ticks (small animals that suck blood from humans and animals) can fight against viruses that cause diseases. The ticks use a special way of cutting up the virus’s genetic material (RNA) into small pieces (siRNAs) that stop the virus from making more copies of itself. This is called RNA interference (RNAi). The researchers studied a type of tick called Asian longhorned tick that can carry many different viruses. They infected the ticks with three different viruses by feeding them blood or injecting them. They found that the ticks made siRNAs against all three viruses and that these siRNAs helped to reduce the amount of virus in the ticks. They also found that some viruses have ways of blocking the RNAi of the ticks by making proteins that stop the siRNAs from working. These proteins are called viral suppressors of RNAi (VSRs). The researchers showed that when they added VSRs from other viruses to one of the viruses they studied, the virus became more successful in infecting the ticks.

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Why is it important?

The paper shows that RNAi is an important way for ticks to defend themselves against viruses and that viruses have evolved to overcome this defense. The paper also introduces a new model for studying how ticks and viruses interact and how they affect humans and animals.


Elucidating the function of ticks' antiviral RNAi pathway in vivo is critical to understand the virus-host interaction and the control of tick-borne viral pathogens.

yang li
Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, China

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Antiviral RNA interference in disease vector (Asian longhorned) ticks, PLoS Pathogens, December 2021, PLOS, DOI: 10.1371/journal.ppat.1010119.
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