Identification and expression analysis of herpes B virus-encoded small RNAs

Melanie A. Amen, Anthony Griffiths

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

14 Scopus citations


Herpes B virus (BV) naturally infects macaque monkeys and is genetically similar to herpes simplex virus (HSV). Zoonotic infection of humans can cause encephalitis and if untreated has a fatality rate of ~80%. The frequent use of macaques in biomedical research emphasizes the need to understand the molecular basis of BV pathogenesis with a view toward improving safety for those working with macaques. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that regulate the expression of mRNAs bearing complementary target sequences and are employed by viruses to control viral and host gene expression. Using deep sequencing and validation by expression in transfected cells, we identified 12 novel BV-encoded miRNAs expressed in lytically infected cells and 4 in latently infected trigeminal ganglia (TG). Using quantitative reverse transcription-PCR (RT-qPCR), we found that most of the miRNAs exhibited a high level of abundance throughout infection. Further analyses showed that some miRNAs could be generated from multiple transcripts with different kinetic classes, possibly explaining detection throughout infection. Interestingly, miRNAs were detected at early times in the absence of viral gene expression and were present in purified virions. In TG, despite similar amounts of viral DNA per ganglion, it was notable that the relative amount of each miRNA varied between ganglia. The majority of the miRNAs are encoded by the regions that exhibit the most sequence differences between BV and HSV. Additionally, there is no sequence conservation between BV- and HSV-encoded miRNAs, which may be important for the differences in the human diseases caused by BV and HSV.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)7296-7311
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of virology
Issue number14
StatePublished - Jul 2011
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Insect Science
  • Virology


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