Emerging roles of small Epstein-Barr virus derived non-coding RNAs in epithelial malignancy

Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Aug 23;14(9):17378-409. doi: 10.3390/ijms140917378.


Latent Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) infection is an etiological factor in the progression of several human epithelial malignancies such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) and a subset of gastric carcinoma. Reports have shown that EBV produces several viral oncoproteins, yet their pathological roles in carcinogenesis are not fully elucidated. Studies on the recently discovered of EBV-encoded microRNAs (ebv-miRNAs) showed that these small molecules function as post-transcriptional gene regulators and may play a role in the carcinogenesis process. In NPC and EBV positive gastric carcinoma (EBVaGC), 22 viral miRNAs which are located in the long alternative splicing EBV transcripts, named BamH1 A rightward transcripts (BARTs), are abundantly expressed. The importance of several miR-BARTs in carcinogenesis has recently been demonstrated. These novel findings enhance our understanding of the oncogenic properties of EBV and may lead to a more effective design of therapeutic regimens to combat EBV-associated malignancies. This article will review the pathological roles of miR-BARTs in modulating the expression of cancer-related genes in both host and viral genomes. The expression of other small non-coding RNAs in NPC and the expression pattern of miR-BARTs in rare EBV-associated epithelial cancers will also be discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / genetics
  • Epstein-Barr Virus Infections / virology
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / genetics
  • Herpesvirus 4, Human / pathogenicity*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma
  • Nasopharyngeal Neoplasms / virology
  • RNA, Viral / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Viral