siRNA silencing of angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 reduced severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus replications in Vero E6 cells

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The outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) in 2002-2003 has had a significant impact worldwide. No effective prophylaxis or treatment for SARS is available up to now. Angiotensin-converting enzyme 2 (ACE2) is the cellular receptor for SARS-associated coronavirus (SARS-CoV). By expressing a U6 promoter-driven small interfering RNA containing sequences homologous to part of ACE2 mRNA, we successfully silenced ACE2 expression in Vero E6 cells. By detecting negative strand SARS-CoV RNA and measuring RNA copy numbers of SARS-CoV by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR), we demonstrated that SARS-CoV infection was reduced in the ACE2-silenced cell lines. These findings support the involvement of ACE2 in SARS-CoV infections and provide a basis for further studies on potential use of siRNA targeting ACE2 as a preventive or therapeutic strategy for SARS.

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