Caister Academic Press

Human Alpha-herpesvirus MicroRNAs: Expression and Functions

Jennifer L. Umbach and Bryan R. Cullen
from: Alphaherpesviruses: Molecular Virology (Edited by: Sandra K. Weller). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2011)


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an extensive class of ~22 nucleotide long regulatory RNAs expressed by all mammalian cells and also by several DNA viruses, including many members of the herpesvirus family. Using deep sequencing technology, it has now been demonstrated that Herpes Simplex Virus 1 (HSV-1) encodes at least eight viral miRNAs, seven of which are expressed in latently infected human neurons. Similarly, HSV-2 has also been shown to encode at least six miRNAs, four of which are evolutionarily conserved between HSV-2 and HSV-1. Perhaps surprisingly, varicella zoster virus does not appear to express any viral miRNAs in latently infected cells. This review discusses the potential functions of the currently known HSV-1 and HSV-2 miRNAs, focusing on a possible role in stabilizing viral latency in infected neurons read more ...
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