Discrete clusters of virus-encoded micrornas are associated with complementary strands of the genome and the 7.2-kilobase stable intron in murine cytomegalovirus

J Virol. 2007 Dec;81(24):13761-70. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01290-07. Epub 2007 Oct 10.


The prevalence and importance of microRNAs (miRNAs) in viral infection are increasingly relevant. Eleven miRNAs were previously identified in human cytomegalovirus (HCMV); however, miRNA content in murine CMV (MCMV), which serves as an important in vivo model for CMV infection, has not previously been examined. We have cloned and characterized 17 novel miRNAs that originate from at least 12 precursor miRNAs in MCMV and are not homologous to HCMV miRNAs. In parallel, we applied a computational analysis, using a support vector machine approach, to identify potential precursor miRNAs in MCMV. Four of the top 10 predicted precursor sequences were cloned in this study, and the combination of computational and cloning analysis demonstrates that MCMV has the capacity to encode miRNAs clustered throughout the genome. On the basis of drug sensitivity experiments for resolving the kinetic class of expression, we show that the MCMV miRNAs are both early and late gene products. Notably, the MCMV miRNAs occur on complementary strands of the genome in specific regions, a feature which has not previously been observed for viral miRNAs. One cluster of miRNAs occurs in close proximity to the 5' splice site of the previously identified 7.2-kb stable intron, implying a variety of potential regulatory mechanisms for MCMV miRNAs.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Base Sequence
  • Bone Marrow Cells
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cloning, Molecular
  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Fibroblasts / virology
  • Genome, Viral*
  • Introns / genetics*
  • L Cells
  • Macrophages / virology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred BALB C
  • MicroRNAs / analysis
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • Muromegalovirus / genetics*
  • NIH 3T3 Cells / virology
  • RNA, Complementary / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / analysis
  • RNA, Viral / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / isolation & purification


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Complementary
  • RNA, Viral