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Epigenetics in Health and Disease by Olga Kovalchuk Ph.D., MD, Igor Kovalchuk Ph.D., MD

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15. Gene silencing—ancient immune response and a versatile mechanism of control over the fate of foreign nucleic acids

RNA interference (RNAi) is an epigenetic mechanism of homology-dependent gene silencing that is induced by double-stranded RNA. Since its discovery in plants, RNAi has been observed in a variety of organisms ranging from fungi to animals. RNAi has evolved as a process involved in defense against viruses, protection against transposons, the regulation of chromatin structure, control over gene expression, specification of cell identity, and the regulation of development of multicellular organisms. This chapter describes in detail the RNAi process, the mechanism of virus-induced gene silencing (VIGS), and viRNA (virus-derived siRNA) ...

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