Virus-encoded miR-155 ortholog in Marek's disease virus promotes cell proliferation via suppressing apoptosis by targeting tumor suppressor WWOX

Marek's disease virus serotype 1 (MDV-1) is an important oncogenic alpha-herpesvirus that induces immunosuppressive and rapid-onset T-cell lymphomatous disease in poultry commonly referred to as Marek's disease (MD). As an excellent biomodel for the study of virally-induced cancers in natural hosts, MDV-1 encoded microRNAs (miRNAs) have been previously demonstrated with the potential roles to act as critical regulators in virus replication, latency, pathogenesis and especially in oncogenesis. Similar to the oncogenic gamma-herpesvirus Kaposi's sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV), miR-M4-5p, the cellular microRNA-155 (miR-155) ortholog encoded by MDV-1, is also involved in MD oncogenesis. In lymphoblastoid cell lines derived from MDV-induced T-cell lymphomas, miR-M4-5p has been shown to be highly expressed and participate in inducing MD lymphomagenesis by regulating multiple signal pathways. Herein we report the new identification of the host WW domain-containing oxidoreductase (WWOX) as a biological target for miR-M4-5p. Further experiments revealed that as a critical oncomiRNA, miR-M4-5p promotes the proliferations of both chicken embryo fibroblast (CEF) and MSB-1 cells via suppressing cell apoptosis by targeting WWOX, a well-known tumor suppressor. Our data presents a novel insight in elucidating the regulatory mechanisms mediated by the viral analog of miR-155 that potentially contribute to MD tumorigenesis.

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