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Retrovirology  2007 

microRNAs in viral oncogenesis

DOI: 10.1186/1742-4690-4-82

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Abstract:

Interest in the involvement of infectious agents in oncogenic transformation, and more so viruses, has been of historical importance, probably starting with Rous' discovery of filterable particles that could transmit avian sarcoma [1]. This was followed by the discovery of the role of other viruses in oncogenic transformation of eukaryotic cells. Subsequently, attempts were made to understand the molecular mechanisms of viral oncogenesis. A new field of noncoding RNA mediated regulation has emerged following the discovery of microRNAs, which are ~22 nucleotide long noncoding regulatory RNAs found in eukaryotes and viruses, and the unraveling of their critical roles in normal and abnormal biological processes including development, host-virus interaction and neoplasia [2]. These small endogenous noncoding RNAs are derived from introns or intergenic regions in the genome, many of which were previously thought to be 'junk DNA'. They are processed from hairpin forming precursors by a battery of cellular proteins. These small RNAs, in association with a ribonucleoprotein complex termed as the RNA Induced Silencing Complex, or RISC, mediate post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. They do this by binding to the 3'UTR regions of the transcripts, harboring regions of imperfect complementarity. The biogenesis and action of microRNAs have been extensively reviewed [3,4]. The role played by microRNAs in the defense of mammalian cells against virus infection has also been discussed recently [5-7].MicroRNAs constitute a hitherto unexplored layer of genetic interactions between the virus and the host. The regulatory impact of microRNAs is huge because a single microRNA can regulate multiple transcripts and multiple microRNAs can regulate a single transcript. This is very similar to transcriptional regulatory networks. Models of microRNA in host-virus cross-talk have been reviewed recently [8,9]. The recent discovery of microRNAs encoded by a number of viruses, includin

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