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RNA. 2016 Aug;22(8):1181-9. doi: 10.1261/rna.054817.115. Epub 2016 Jun 22.

Host miRNA degradation by Herpesvirus saimiri small nuclear RNA requires an unstructured interacting region.

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Department of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry, Howard Hughes Medical Institute, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut 06536, USA.


Herpesvirus saimiri, an oncogenic herpesvirus, during latency produces seven small nuclear RNAs, called the Herpesvirus saimiri U RNAs (HSUR1-7). HSUR1 mediates degradation of the host microRNA, miR-27, via a process that requires imperfect base-pairing. The decreased levels of miR-27 lead to prolonged T-cell activation and likely contribute to oncogenesis. To gain insight into HSUR1-mediated degradation of miR-27, we probed the in vivo secondary structure of HSUR1 and coupled this with bioinformatic structural analyses. The results suggest that HSUR1 adopts a conformation different than previously believed and that the region complementary to miR-27 lacks stable structure. To determine whether HSUR1 structural flexibility is important for its ability to mediate miR-27 degradation, we performed structurally informative mutagenic analyses of HSUR1. HSUR1 mutants in which the miR-27 binding site sequence is preserved, but sequestered in predicted helices, lose their ability to decrease miR-27 levels. These results indicate that the HSUR1 miR27-binding region must be available in a conformationally flexible segment for noncoding RNA function.


HSUR1; in vivo chemical mapping; miRNA degradation element

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