RNA interference of influenza virus production by directly targeting mRNA for degradation and indirectly inhibiting all viral RNA transcription

Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2003 Mar 4;100(5):2718-23. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0437841100. Epub 2003 Feb 19.


Influenza A virus causes widespread infection in the human respiratory tract, but existing vaccines and drug therapy are of limited value. Here we show that short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) specific for conserved regions of the viral genome can potently inhibit influenza virus production in both cell lines and embryonated chicken eggs. The inhibition depends on the presence of a functional antisense strand in the siRNA duplex, suggesting that viral mRNA is the target of RNA interference. However, siRNA specific for nucleocapsid (NP) or a component of the RNA transcriptase (PA) abolished the accumulation of not only the corresponding mRNA but also virion RNA and its complementary RNA. These siRNAs also broadly inhibited the accumulation of other viral, but not cellular, RNAs. The findings reveal that newly synthesized NP and PA proteins are required for influenza virus transcription and replication and provide a basis for the development of siRNAs as prophylaxis and therapy for influenza infection in humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Chick Embryo
  • Dogs
  • Dose-Response Relationship, Drug
  • Electroporation
  • Humans
  • Influenza A virus / physiology
  • Influenza, Human / prevention & control
  • Influenza, Human / virology*
  • Nucleocapsid Proteins / metabolism
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Complementary / metabolism
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Time Factors
  • Transfection


  • Nucleocapsid Proteins
  • RNA, Complementary
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral
  • RNA