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Identification of Virus-Encoded MicroRNAs

Science, 30 April 2004
Vol. 304, Issue 5671, p. 734-736
DOI: 10.1126/science.1096781

Identification of Virus-Encoded MicroRNAs

  1. Sébastien Pfeffer1,
  2. Mihaela Zavolan2,
  3. Friedrich A. Grässer3,
  4. Minchen Chien4,
  5. James J. Russo4,
  6. Jingyue Ju4,
  7. Bino John5,
  8. Anton J. Enright5,
  9. Debora Marks4,
  10. Chris Sander5,
  11. Thomas Tuschl1,*
  1. 1 Laboratory of RNA Molecular Biology, The Rockefeller University, 1230 York Avenue, Box 186, New York, NY 10021, USA.
  2. 2 Biozentrum der Universität Basel, Klingelbergstrasse 50-70, CH-4056 Basel, Switzerland.
  3. 3 Institut für Mikrobiologie und Hygiene, Abteilung Virologie, Haus 47, Universitätskliniken, D-66421 Homburg/Saar, Germany.
  4. 4 Columbia Genome Center, Columbia University, 1150 St. Nicholas Avenue, New York, NY 10032, USA.
  5. 5 Computational Biology Center, Memorial Sloan-Kettering Cancer Center, 1275 York Avenue, New York, NY 10021, USA.
  1. * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: ttuschl{at}


RNA silencing processes are guided by small RNAs that are derived from double-stranded RNA. To probe for function of RNA silencing during infection of human cells by a DNA virus, we recorded the small RNA profile of cells infected by Epstein-Barr virus (EBV). We show that EBV expresses several microRNA (miRNA) genes. Given that miRNAs function in RNA silencing pathways either by targeting messenger RNAs for degradation or by repressing translation, we identified viral regulators of host and/or viral gene expression.

  • Received for publication 13 February 2004.
  • Accepted for publication 23 March 2004.


S. Pfeffer, M. Zavolan, F. A. Grässer, M. Chien, J. J. Russo, J. Ju, B. John, A. J. Enright, D. Marks, C. Sander, and T. Tuschl, Identification of Virus-Encoded MicroRNAs. Science 304, 734-736 (2004).

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