MicroRNAs and unusual small RNAs discovered in Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus virions

J Virol. 2012 Dec;86(23):12717-30. doi: 10.1128/JVI.01473-12. Epub 2012 Sep 12.


It is widely held that any given virus uses only one type of nucleic acid for genetic information storage. However, this consensus has been challenged slightly by several recent studies showing that many RNA species are present within a range of DNA viruses that include Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). RNAs extracted from purified DNA virus particles exhibit great diversity in terms of length, abundance, temporal expression, cellular localization, and coding capacity during viral infection. In addition to known RNA species, the current study showed that small regulatory RNAs were present in KSHV virions. A large number of viral and cellular microRNAs (miRNAs), as well as unusual small RNAs (usRNAs), were detected in KSHV virions by using deep sequencing. Both viral and host miRNAs detected in small RNAs extracted from KSHV virions were further shown to colocalize with KSHV virions directly by in situ hybridization (ISH)-electron microscopy (EM) (ISH-EM). Some of these miRNAs were differentially present in the host cells and KSHV virions, suggesting that they are not randomly present in KSHV virions. The virional miRNAs could be transported into host cells, and they are biologically functional during de novo viral infection. Our study revealed miRNAs and usRNAs as a novel group of components in KSHV virions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Blotting, Western
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • DNA Primers / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 8, Human / genetics*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • In Situ Hybridization
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / genetics*
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid / genetics*
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Virion / genetics*


  • DNA Primers
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Small Untranslated
  • Regulatory Sequences, Ribonucleic Acid