Virus infection is generally disadvantageous to the host and strongly selects for host antiviral mechanisms. Therefore, viruses must develop counter-mechanisms to guarantee their survival. This arms race between pathogen and host leads to positive selection for both cellular antiviral mechanisms and viral inhibitors of such mechanisms. Here, we characterize this arms race in the context of the RNA interference (RNAi) pathway, which is used as an innate immune response against viral infection by animals. We review how RNAi is used as an antiviral strategy and the mechanisms that viruses have evolved to suppress the RNAi response.
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