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Mol Cell. 2011 Sep 16;43(6):982-92. doi: 10.1016/j.molcel.2011.07.025.

A primate herpesvirus uses the integrator complex to generate viral microRNAs.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Boyer Center for Molecular Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, 295 Congress Avenue, New Haven, CT 06536, USA.


Herpesvirus saimiri (HVS) is a γ-herpesvirus that expresses Sm class U RNAs (HSURs) in latently infected marmoset T cells. By deep sequencing, we identified six HVS microRNAs (miRNAs) that are derived from three hairpin structures located immediately downstream of the 3' end processing signals of three of the HSURs. The viral miRNAs associate with Ago proteins and are biologically active. We confirmed that the expression of the two classes of viral noncoding RNAs is linked by identifying chimeric HSUR-pre-miRNA transcripts. We show that HVS miRNA biogenesis relies on cis-acting elements specifically required for synthesis and processing of Sm class RNAs. Knockdown of protein components in vivo and processing assays in vitro demonstrated that HVS does not utilize the Microprocessor complex that generates most host miRNAs. Instead, the Integrator complex cleaves to generate the 3' end of the HSUR and the pre-miRNA hairpin. Exportin-5 and Dicer are then required to generate mature viral miRNAs.

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