• Animal models;
  • Infectious diseases;
  • Virology

Antiviral RNA silencing has been recognized as an important defense mechanism in arthropods against RNA viruses. However, the role of this pathway in DNA virus infection remains largely unexplored. A report in this issue of the European Journal of Immunology provides new insight into the role of RNA silencing in antiviral defense against DNA viruses. Huang and Zhang [Eur. J. Immunol. 2013. 137–146] found that the dsDNA virus white spot syndrome virus, an agriculturally important pathogen of shrimp, is targeted by the shrimp RNA-silencing machinery via the production of virus-derived siRNAs. Furthermore, the authors show that the RNA-silencing pathway, and crucially, Dicer-2, is important for restricting viral infection. This study provides novel insights not only into shrimp antiviral defenses but also potentially into antiviral immunity against DNA viruses in a larger spectrum of hosts, as discussed in this Commentary. Furthermore, this study may contribute to the future development of immune-based therapeutics to combat viral pathogens, not only in aquaculture, but also in insect vectors of human diseases.