In-depth analysis of Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus microRNA expression provides insights into the mammalian microRNA-processing machinery.
We have used deep sequencing to analyze the pattern of viral microRNA (miRNA) expression observed in the B-cell line BC-3, which is latently infected with Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). We recovered 14.6 x 10(6) total miRNA cDNA reads, of which a remarkable 92% were of KSHV origin. We detected 11 KSHV miRNAs as well as all 11 predicted miRNA or passenger strands from the miRNA duplex intermediate. One previously reported KSHV miRNA, miR-K9, was found to be mutationally inactivated. This analysis revealed that the 5' ends of 10 of the 11 KSHV miRNAs were essentially invariant, with significantly more variation being observed at the 3' end, a result which is consistent with the proposal that the 5'-proximal region of miRNAs is critical for target mRNA recognition. However, one KSHV miRNA, miR-K10-3p, was detected in two isoforms differing by 1 nucleotide (nt) at the 5' end that were present at comparable levels, and these two related KSHV miRNAs are therefore likely to target at least partially distinct mRNA populations. Finally, we also report the first detection of miRNA offset RNAs (moRs) in vertebrate somatic cells. moRs, which derive from primary miRNA (pri-miRNA) sequences that immediately flank the mature miRNA and miRNA strands, were identified flanking one or both sides of nine of the KSHV miRNAs. These data provide new insights into the pattern of miRNA processing in mammalian cells and indicate that this process is highly conserved during animal evolution.
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