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Nucleic Acids Res. 2008 Feb;36(2):666-75. Epub 2007 Dec 10.

Epstein-Barr virus-encoded microRNA miR-BART2 down-regulates the viral DNA polymerase BALF5.

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Institute of Virology, University of Saarland Medical School, 66424 Homburg, Germany.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in sequence-specific cleavage, translational repression or deadenylation of specific target mRNAs resulting in post-transcriptional gene silencing. Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) encodes 23 miRNAs of unknown function. Here we show that the EBV-encoded miRNA miR-BART2 down-regulates the viral DNA polymerase BALF5. MiR-BART2 guides cleavage within the 3'-untranslated region (3'UTR) of BALF5 by virtue of its complete complementarity to its target. Induction of the lytic viral replication cycle results in a reduction of the level of miR-BART2 with a strong concomitant decrease of cleavage of the BALF5 3'UTR. Expression of miR-BART2 down-regulates the activity of a luciferase reporter gene containing the BALF5 3'UTR. Forced expression of miR-BART2 during lytic replication resulted in a 40-50% reduction of the level of BALF5 protein and a 20% reduction of the amount of virus released from EBV-infected cells. Our results are compatible with the notion that EBV-miR-BART2 inhibits transition from latent to lytic viral replication.

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