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Mol Cell. 2005 Oct 7;20(1):3-7.

MicroRNAs and viral infection.

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Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Department of Microbiology, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94143, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a pivotal role in the regulation of genes involved in diverse processes such as development, differentiation, and cellular growth control. Recently, many viral-encoded miRNAs have been discovered, for the most part in viruses transcribed from double-stranded DNA genomes. As with their cellular counterparts, the functions of most viral-derived miRNAs are unknown; however, functions have been documented or proposed for viral miRNAs from three different viral families-herpesviruses, polyomaviruses, and retroviruses. Several virus-encoded miRNAs have unique aspects to their biogenesis, such as the polymerase that transcribes them or their location within the precursor transcript. Additionally, viral interactions with cellular miRNAs have also been identified, and these have substantially expanded our appreciation of miRNA functions.

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