RNA interference (RNAi) is a sequence-specific RNA degradation process mediated by short double-stranded RNAs termed small interfering RNAs. Here, we describe the lentivirus-based vector small interfering RNA system expressing. As a pilot study, we generated constructs expressing small hairpin RNA (shRNA) specific for luciferase gene (shLuc) or green fluorescence protein (shGFP) under the control of human H1 RNA polymerase III promoter. The effect of the shRNA was evaluated against HIV-1 infection in a single-round or multiple-round infectious system using an HIV-1 molecular clone carrying the luc or GFP gene. In the single-round infectious system, cells transduced with shLuc by lentiviral vector significantly reduced (∼90% reduction) viral gene expression after challenge infection at a multiplicity of infection of 10. These transduced cells continued to resist against at least four sequentially repeated challenge infections. Importantly, this efficient antiviral activity persisted over 35 days in culture. In a multiple-round infectious system using a replication-competent HIV-1 molecular clone carrying the GFP gene, we also observed that a lentiviral vector expressing shGFP could inhibit HIV-1 replication for at least 1 week. The profound effect of lentiviral shRNA was also observed in human primary monocyte-derived macrophages. Thus, shRNA introduced through the lentiviral vector can be useful for efficient and stable gene suppression in human cells including primary non-dividing cells. Moreover, quantitative analysis of viral cDNA synthesis on challenge infection showed that viral genomic RNAs packaged in incoming virus core might not be targeted by shLuc. Instead, the degradation of transcripts from integrated proviral DNAs might be a major cause of the profound reduction in HIV-1 gene expression by shRNA in our system.
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