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Virology. 2009 Jan 20;383(2):183-7. doi: 10.1016/j.virol.2008.11.001. Epub 2008 Nov 30.

Merkel cell polyomavirus encodes a microRNA with the ability to autoregulate viral gene expression.

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  • 1The University of Texas at Austin, Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, 78712-0162, USA.

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  • Virology. 2009 Nov 10;394(1):173.


microRNAs (miRNAs) are post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression that play a role in viral infection. We have developed a method to identify viral-encoded miRNAs from viruses in which abundant amounts of infected material is limiting. We show that Merkel Cell Polyomavirus (MCV), a recently identified human virus associated with cancer, encodes a miRNA. This miRNA is expressed from the late strand, lies antisense to the early transcripts and negatively regulates expression of chimeric reporters containing a portion of the early transcripts. Interestingly, different viral isolates have sequence polymorphisms in the pre-miRNA region that result in amino acids substitutions but fully preserve the processing and activity of the miRNAs.

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