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Curr Biol. 2005 May 24;15(10):974-9.

Small nuclear RNAs encoded by Herpesvirus saimiri upregulate the expression of genes linked to T cell activation in virally transformed T cells.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 06536, USA.


Seven small nuclear RNAs of the Sm class are encoded by Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS), a gamma Herpesvirus that causes aggressive T cell leukemias and lymphomas in New World primates and efficiently transforms T cells in vitro. The Herpesvirus saimiri U RNAs (HSURs) are the most abundant viral transcripts in HVS-transformed, latently infected T cells but are not required for viral replication or transformation in vitro. We have compared marmoset T cells transformed with wild-type or a mutant HVS lacking the most highly conserved HSURs, HSURs 1 and 2. Microarray and Northern analyses reveal that HSUR 1 and 2 expression correlates with significant increases in a small number of host mRNAs, including the T cell-receptor beta and gamma chains, the T cell and natural killer (NK) cell-surface receptors CD52 and DAP10, and intracellular proteins--SKAP55, granulysin, and NKG7--linked to T cell and NK cell activation. Upregulation of three of these transcripts was rescued after transduction of deletion-mutant-HVS-transformed cells with a lentiviral vector carrying HSURs 1 and 2. These changes indicate an unexpected role for the HSURs in regulating a remarkably defined and physiologically relevant set of host targets involved in the activation of virally transformed T cells during latency.

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