Each year millions of chickens die from Newcastle disease virus (NDV) worldwide leading to severe economic and food losses. Current vaccination campaigns have limitations especially in developing countries, due to elevated costs, need of trained personnel for effective vaccine administration, and functional cold chain network to maintain vaccine viability. These problems have led to heightened interest in producing new antiviral strategies, such as RNA interference (RNAi). RNAi methodology is capable of substantially decreasing viral replication at a cellular level, both in vitro and in vivo. In this study, we utilize microRNA (miRNA)-expressing constructs (a type of RNA interference) in an attempt to target and knockdown five NDV structural RNAs for nucleoprotein (NP), phosphoprotein (P), matrix (M), fusion (F), and large (L) protein genes. Immortalized chicken embryo fibroblast cells (DF-1) that transiently expressed miRNA targeting NP mRNA, showed increased resistance to NDV-induced cytopathic effects, as determined by cell count, relative to the same cells expressing miRNA against alternative NDV proteins. Upon infection with NDV, DF-1 cells constitutively expressing the NP miRNA construct had improved cell survival up to 48 h post infection (h.p.i) and decreased viral yield up to 24 h.p.i. These results suggest that overexpression of the NP miRNA in cells and perhaps live animal may provide resistance to NDV.
Keywords: Newcastle disease virus; RNA interference; miRNA.
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