Minimal Exposure

Science's STKE  24 Jul 2007:
Vol. 2007, Issue 396, pp. tw266
DOI: 10.1126/stke.3962007tw266

The recent discovery that certain viruses express microRNAs (miRNAs) raises the question as to whether these pathogens might use miRNA to evade their hosts. Stern-Ginossar et al. (see the Perspective by Cullen) find that for human cytomegalovirus, this indeed appears to be the case. One of the virus’s miRNAs was predicted to target the 3′ untranslated regions of two immune-related genes, which become activated in response to viral infections. Expression of one of these proteins was indeed dampened by the viral miRNA, which reduced recognition by antiviral natural killer cells. It remains to be seen if miRNA will turn out to be a widespread method exploited by viruses to evade host immunity.

N. Stern-Ginossar, N. Elefant, A. Zimmermann, D. G. Wolf, N. Saleh, M. Biton, E. Horwitz, Z. Prokocimer, M. Prichard, G. Hahn, D. Goldman-Wohl, C. Greenfield, S. Yagel, H. Hengel, Y. Altuvia, H. Margalit, O. Mandelboim, Host immune system gene targeting by a viral miRNA. Science 317, 376-381 (2007) [Abstract] [Full Text]

B. R. Cullen, Outwitted by viral RNAs. Science 317, 329-330 (2007). [Summary] [Full Text]