EBV and human microRNAs co-target oncogenic and apoptotic viral and human genes during latency

EMBO J. 2012 May 2;31(9):2207-21. doi: 10.1038/emboj.2012.63. Epub 2012 Mar 30.


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) controls gene expression to transform human B cells and maintain viral latency. High-throughput sequencing and crosslinking immunoprecipitation (HITS-CLIP) identified mRNA targets of 44 EBV and 310 human microRNAs (miRNAs) in Jijoye (Latency III) EBV-transformed B cells. While 25% of total cellular miRNAs are viral, only three viral mRNAs, all latent transcripts, are targeted. Thus, miRNAs do not control the latent/lytic switch by targeting EBV lytic genes. Unexpectedly, 90% of the 1664 human 3'-untranslated regions targeted by the 12 most abundant EBV miRNAs are also targeted by human miRNAs via distinct binding sites. Half of these are targets of the oncogenic miR-17∼92 miRNA cluster and associated families, including mRNAs that regulate transcription, apoptosis, Wnt signalling, and the cell cycle. Reporter assays confirmed the functionality of several EBV and miR-17 family miRNA-binding sites in EBV latent membrane protein 1 (LMP1), EBV BHRF1, and host CAPRIN2 mRNAs. Our extensive list of EBV and human miRNA targets implicates miRNAs in the control of EBV latency and illuminates viral miRNA function in general.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics
  • B-Lymphocytes / virology
  • Cell Cycle Proteins / genetics
  • Cell Line
  • Cell Transformation, Viral
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Viral
  • HEK293 Cells
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*
  • Transcription, Genetic
  • Viral Proteins / genetics
  • Virus Latency / genetics*
  • Wnt Proteins / genetics


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • Cell Cycle Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA, Viral
  • Viral Proteins
  • Wnt Proteins