HIV-1 encoded candidate micro-RNAs and their cellular targets

Retrovirology. 2004 Dec 15;1:43. doi: 10.1186/1742-4690-1-43.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs of 21-25 nucleotides that specifically regulate cellular gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs are derived from the maturation by cellular RNases III of imperfect stem loop structures of ~ 70 nucleotides. Evidence for hundreds of miRNAs and their corresponding targets has been reported in the literature for plants, insects, invertebrate animals, and mammals. While not all of these miRNA/target pairs have been functionally verified, some clearly serve roles in regulating normal development and physiology. Recently, it has been queried whether the genome of human viruses like their cellular counterpart also encode miRNA. To date, there has been only one report pertaining to this question. The Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) has been shown to encode five miRNAs. Here, we extend the analysis of miRNA-encoding potential to the human immunodeficiency virus (HIV). Using computer-directed analyses, we found that HIV putatively encodes five candidate pre-miRNAs. We then matched deduced mature miRNA sequences from these 5 pre-miRNAs against a database of 3' untranslated sequences (UTR) from the human genome. These searches revealed a large number of cellular transcripts that could potentially be targeted by these viral miRNA (vmiRNA) sequences. We propose that HIV has evolved to use vmiRNAs as a means to regulate cellular milieu for its benefit.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions / genetics
  • Base Sequence
  • Genome, Human
  • Genome, Viral
  • HIV-1 / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • RNA Processing, Post-Transcriptional
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Viral