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EMBO J. 2012 May 2;31(9):2207-21. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2012.63. Epub 2012 Mar 30.

EBV and human microRNAs co-target oncogenic and apoptotic viral and human genes during latency.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, CT, USA.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) controls gene expression to transform human B cells and maintain viral latency. High-throughput sequencing and crosslinking immunoprecipitation (HITS-CLIP) identified mRNA targets of 44 EBV and 310 human microRNAs (miRNAs) in Jijoye (Latency III) EBV-transformed B cells. While 25% of total cellular miRNAs are viral, only three viral mRNAs, all latent transcripts, are targeted. Thus, miRNAs do not control the latent/lytic switch by targeting EBV lytic genes. Unexpectedly, 90% of the 1664 human 3'-untranslated regions targeted by the 12 most abundant EBV miRNAs are also targeted by human miRNAs via distinct binding sites. Half of these are targets of the oncogenic miR-17∼92 miRNA cluster and associated families, including mRNAs that regulate transcription, apoptosis, Wnt signalling, and the cell cycle. Reporter assays confirmed the functionality of several EBV and miR-17 family miRNA-binding sites in EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), EBV BHRF1, and host CAPRIN2 mRNAs. Our extensive list of EBV and human miRNA targets implicates miRNAs in the control of EBV latency and illuminates viral miRNA function in general.

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