Critical roles of non-coding RNAs in lifecycle and biology of Marek's disease herpesvirus

Over the past two decades, numerous non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been identified in different biological systems including virology, especially in large DNA viruses such as herpesviruses. As a representative oncogenic alphaherpesvirus, Marek's disease virus (MDV) causes an important immunosuppressive and rapid-onset neoplastic disease of poultry, namely Marek's disease (MD). Vaccinations can efficiently prevent the onset of MD lymphomas and other clinical disease, often heralded as the first successful example of vaccination-based control of cancer. MDV infection is also an excellent model for research into virally-induced tumorigenesis. Recently, great progress has been made in understanding the functions of ncRNAs in MD biology. Herein, we give a review of the discovery and identification of MDV-encoded viral miRNAs, focusing on the genomics, expression profiles, and emerging critical roles of MDV-1 miRNAs as oncogenic miRNAs (oncomiRs) or tumor suppressor genes involved in the induction of MD lymphomas. We also described the involvements of host cellular miRNAs, lincRNAs, and circRNAs participating in MDV life cycle, pathogenesis, and/or tumorigenesis. The prospects, strategies, and new techniques such as the CRISPR/Cas9-based gene editing applicable for further investigation into the ncRNA-mediated regulatory mechanisms in MDV pathogenesis/oncogenesis were also discussed, together with the possibilities of future studies on antiviral therapy and the development of new efficient MD vaccines.

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