In vivo expression of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) microRNAs during latency

Mesfin K. Meshesha, Zvi Bentwich, Semaria A. Solomon, Yonat Shemer Avni

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    40 Scopus citations


    Viral encoded microRNAs play key roles in regulating gene expression and the life cycle of human herpes viruses. Latency is one of the hallmarks of the human cytomegalovirus (HCMV or HHV5) life cycle, and its control may have immense practical applications. The present study aims to identify HCMV encoded microRNAs during the latency phase of the virus. We used a highly sensitive real time PCR (RTPCR) assay that involves a pre-amplification step before RTPCR. It can detect HCMV encoded microRNAs (miRNAs) during latency in purified monocytes and PBMCs from HCMV IgG positive donors and in latently infected monocytic THP-1 cell lines. During the latency phase, only eight HCMV encoded microRNAs were detected in PBMCs, monocytes and in the THP-1 cells. Five originated from the UL region of the virus genome and three from the US region. Reactivation of the virus from latency, in monocytes obtained from the same donor, using dexamethasone restored the expression of all known HCMV encoded miRNAs including those that were absent during latency. We observed a shift in the abundance of the two arms of mir-US29 between the productive and latency stages of the viral life cycle, suggesting that the star "passenger" form of this microRNA is preferentially expressed during latency. As a whole, our study demonstrates that HCMV expresses during the latency phase, both in vivo and in vitro, only a subset of its microRNAs, which may indicate that they play an important role in maintenance and reactivation of latency.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)101-107
    Number of pages7
    Issue number1
    StatePublished - 1 Jan 2016


    • Cytomegalovirus
    • HCMV
    • Latency
    • MicroRNA
    • Monocytes
    • PBMC

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Genetics


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