Endoribonuclease-prepared short interfering RNAs induce effective and specific inhibition of human immunodeficiency virus type 1 replication

J Virol. 2007 Oct;81(19):10680-6. doi: 10.1128/JVI.00950-07. Epub 2007 Jul 25.


Short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) targeting viral or cellular genes can efficiently inhibit human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) replication. Nevertheless, optimal HIV-1 gene silencing by siRNA requires precise complementarity with most of the target sequence. The emergence of mutations in the targeted gene could lead to rapid viral escape from the siRNA. In the present study, Escherichia coli endoribonuclease III (RNase III) or mammalian Dicer was used to cleave double-stranded RNA into endoribonuclease-prepared siRNA (esiRNA). esiRNAs generate a variety of siRNAs which can efficiently and specifically target multiple sites in the cognate RNA. esiRNAs targeting the region encoding the HIV-1 reverse transcriptase (RT) reduced viral replication by 90%. The inhibition was dose dependent and sequence specific because several irrelevant esiRNAs did not inhibit HIV-1 replication. Importantly, esiRNAs obtained from the prototypic RT sequence of the HXB2 strain and from highly mutated RT sequences showed similar degrees of viral inhibition, suggesting that the heterogeneous population of esiRNAs could overcome individual mismatches in the RT sequence. Finally, esiRNAs generated by Dicer cleavage were five times more potent than those generated by bacterial RNase III digestion. These results show that esiRNAs are potent HIV-1 inhibitors. Moreover, sequence targets do not need to be highly conserved to reach a high level of viral replication inhibition.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Anti-HIV Agents / chemistry
  • Anti-HIV Agents / pharmacology*
  • DNA, Viral / chemistry
  • Escherichia coli Proteins / chemistry*
  • HIV-1 / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • RNA Interference*
  • RNA, Double-Stranded / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / chemistry
  • RNA, Small Interfering / pharmacology*
  • Ribonuclease III / chemistry*
  • Virus Replication / drug effects*


  • Anti-HIV Agents
  • DNA, Viral
  • Escherichia coli Proteins
  • RNA, Double-Stranded
  • RNA, Small Interfering
  • Ribonuclease III
  • ribonuclease III, E coli