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a question concerning ds RNAS

B Stickney sticknbd at miranda.cc.vanderbilt.edu
Wed May 18 18:36:41 EST 1994


It is my understanding that a cell commits suicide
if there are double-stranded RNAs present inside.
This is alleged to reflect a give-it-up strategy in
case of viral infection, so that the spread of the
virus is inhibited.  However, I believe most RNA viri
are of the retrovirus class.  As such they would not
be generating any ds-RNA (RNA->DNA->RNA, rather
than RNA->RNA).  I believe also that there are only
a limited number of known RNA viri that do not have
reverse transcriptase activity.  Therefore, can one
assume that this strategy was so effective that those
viri employing the ds-RNA phenotype just went (mostly)
extinct, and this adamant reaction is vestigial?  What
could explain this strong reaction to ds-RNA?  Was
this type of viri more common in times past?  Is there
some other explanation?  

Periferally, what is the explanation for the existance
of reverse transcriptase in eukaryotes?  Are we looking
at viral contamination here, a leftover gene from some
infection, or is there some use to eukaryotes for reverse
transcriptase?

sticknbd at miranda.cc.vanderbilt.edu



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