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Virus-Encoded microRNAs

RNA Regulation

  1. Lee Tuddenham,
  2. Sébastien Pfeffer

Published Online: 2 OCT 2013

DOI: 10.1002/3527600906.mcb.201200032

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine

How to Cite

Tuddenham, L. and Pfeffer, S. 2013. Virus-Encoded microRNAs . Reviews in Cell Biology and Molecular Medicine. 1–41.

Author Information

  1. Université de Strasbourg, Architecture et Réactivité de l'ARN, Institut de biologie moléculaire et cellulaire du CNRS, Strasbourg, France

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 2 OCT 2013


Since their initial discovery, microRNAs (miRNAs), which are key post-transcriptional regulators conserved throughout eukaryotes, have been implicated in almost every biological process known to mankind. Host defense against pathogens such as bacteria and viruses is no exception, and can be modulated by these small noncoding RNAs, which act at multiple levels in this on-going battle. However, one of the best illustrations of the importance of miRNAs during viral infections is the discovery that some viruses could express their own set of miRNAs. In this chapter, the known viral miRNAs of double-stranded DNA viruses will be explored, with an in-depth focus on herpesvirus miRNAs and their functions. The ways in which viruses exploit noncanonical miRNA biogenesis pathways to generate their own miRNAs will also be discussed. The functions of viral microRNAs are only now starting to be elucidated; their known roles in regulating both viral and cellular gene expression will be discussed, with a global outlook into common regulatory themes shared among the viral miRNAs of different viruses. To conclude, a summary will be provided of the most important findings in the field, together with current opinion and future perspectives in viral miRNA research.


  • herpesvirus;
  • latency;
  • microRNA (miRNA);
  • RNA silencing