Utilization of Host microRNAs by Human Polyomaviruses
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The recent boom in human polyomavirus discovery has led to a dramatic expansion of the Polyomaviridae family. A handful of these viruses have been shown to encode microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that function to regulate gene expression. In the case of polyomaviruses, the miRNA controls the expression of their most important gene products, the tumor antigens (T antigens). It is still unclear, however, if many of the newly discovered polyomaviruses encode miRNAs. We used computational analysis to predict the potential to express miRNAs in the recently reported human polyomaviruses. The analysis predicted that Human Polyomavirus 12 (HPyV12) encodes a miRNA while the other polyomaviruses do not. This prediction was further validated via Northern blot analysis and cell culture assays. To address the miRNA-null viruses, the 3’ untranslated region (3’ UTR) of large T Antigen transcripts were inspected using a custom Python algorithm to identify possible human miRNA binding sites.