Editors' ChoiceVirology

Viral miRNAs

Science's STKE  04 May 2004:
Vol. 2004, Issue 231, pp. tw162
DOI: 10.1126/stke.2312004tw162

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small ~22-nucleotide RNAs that regulate gene expression either by causing the cleavage and presumed destruction of target RNAs or by repressing their translation. miRNAs have been found in the genomes of all plants and animals so far analyzed (the exceptions being some fungi). Pfeffer et al. now show the presence of miRNAs in a virus, the "fourth domain" of life. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV), a large DNA virus and one of the most common human viruses, encodes five miRNAs. Bioinformatics analyses, supported in one case by previous research, suggest the EBV miRNAs target both viral and human genes that have the potential to regulate the course of viral infection.

S. Pfeffer, M. Zavolan, F. A. Grässer, M. Chien, J. J. Russo, J. Ju, B. John, A. J. Enright, D. Marks, C. Sander, T. Tuschl, Identification of virus-encoded microRNAs. Science 304, 734-736 (2004). [Abstract] [Full Text]

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