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J Virol. 2007 Dec;81(23):12836-45. Epub 2007 Sep 19.

Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus encodes an ortholog of miR-155.

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  • 1Department of Molecular Genetics and Microbiology, and Shands Cancer Center, 1376 Mowry Road, Gainesville, FL 32610-3633, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate gene expression by binding to 3'-untranslated regions (3'UTRs) of target mRNAs. Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), a virus linked to malignancies including primary effusion lymphoma (PEL), encodes 12 miRNA genes, but only a few regulatory targets are known. We found that KSHV-miR-K12-11 shares 100% seed sequence homology with hsa-miR-155, an miRNA frequently found to be up-regulated in lymphomas and critically important for B-cell development. Based on this seed sequence homology, we hypothesized that both miRNAs regulate a common set of target genes and, as a result, could have similar biological activities. Examination of five PEL lines showed that PELs do not express miR-155 but do express high levels of miR-K12-11. Bioinformatic tools predicted the transcriptional repressor BACH-1 to be targeted by both miRNAs, and ectopic expression of either miR-155 or miR-K12-11 inhibited a BACH-1 3'UTR-containing reporter. Furthermore, BACH-1 protein levels are low in cells expressing either miRNA. Gene expression profiling of miRNA-expressing stable cell lines revealed 66 genes that were commonly down-regulated. For select genes, miRNA targeting was confirmed by reporter assays. Thus, based on our in silico predictions, reporter assays, and expression profiling data, miR-K12-11 and miR-155 regulate a common set of cellular targets. Given the role of miR-155 during B-cell maturation, we speculate that miR-K12-11 may contribute to the distinct developmental phenotype of PEL cells, which are blocked in a late stage of B-cell development. Together, these findings indicate that KSHV miR-K12-11 is an ortholog of miR-155.

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