Repurposed Transcriptomic Data Reveal Small Viral RNA Produced by Influenza Virus during Infection in Mice

PLoS One. 2016 Oct 27;11(10):e0165729. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0165729. eCollection 2016.


Influenza virus, a highly infectious ssRNA virus, replicates in the nucleus of host cells. This unusual feature brings the possibility that the virus may hijack host small noncoding RNA metabolism. Influenza small viral RNA production has been examined in vitro but has not yet been studied in an in vivo setting. We assessed small RNA species from influenza virus during mouse infection by mining publicly available mouse small RNA transcriptome data. We uncovered 26 nt reads corresponding to svRNA, a small viral RNA previously detected in vitro that regulates the transition from transcription to replication during infection, and found a strong positive correlation between svRNA production and host susceptibility to influenza virus infection. We also detected significant overrepresentation of a non-coding 23 nt sequence that we speculate may behave like a miRNA and work with influenza protein NS1 to prevent the transcription and maturation of interferon-stimulated mRNAs.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Orthomyxoviridae / genetics*
  • RNA, Viral / biosynthesis*
  • Transcriptome*


  • RNA, Viral