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Small RNA Profiles from Virus-Infected Fresh Market Vegetables

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posted on 10.12.2014, 00:00 by Alessandra Frizzi, Yuanji Zhang, John Kao, Charles Hagen, Shihshieh Huang
Functional small RNAs, such as short interfering RNAs (siRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs), exist in freshly consumed fruits and vegetables. These siRNAs can be derived either from endogenous sequences or from viruses that infect them. Symptomatic tomatoes, watermelons, zucchini, and onions were purchased from grocery stores and investigated by small RNA sequencing. By aligning the obtained small RNA sequences to sequences of known viruses, four different viruses were identified as infecting these fruits and vegetables. Many of these virally derived small RNAs along with endogenous small RNAs were found to be highly complementary to human genes. However, the established history of safe consumption of these vegetables suggests that this sequence homology has little biological relevance. By extension, these results provide evidence for the safe use by humans and animals of genetically engineered crops using RNA-based suppression technologies, especially vegetable crops with virus resistance conferred by expression of siRNAs or miRNAs derived from viral sequences.

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