Abstract / Description of output
Ovine herpesvirus-2 (OvHV-2) infects most sheep, where it establishes an asymptomatic, latent infection. Infection of susceptible hosts e.g. cattle and deer results in malignant catarrhal fever, a fatal lymphoproliferative disease characterised by uncontrolled lymphocyte proliferation and non MHC restricted cytotoxicity. The same cell populations are infected in both cattle and sheep but only in cattle does virus infection cause dysregulation of cell function leading to disease. The mechanism by which OvHV-2 induces this uncontrolled proliferation is unknown. A number of herpesviruses have been shown to encode microRNAs (miRNAs) that have roles in control of both viral and cellular gene expression. We hypothesised that OvHV-2 encodes miRNAs and that these play a role in pathogenesis. Analysis of massively parallel sequencing data from an OvHV-2 persistently-infected bovine lymphoid cell line (BJ1035) identified forty-five possible virus-encoded miRNAs. We previously confirmed the expression of eight OvHV-2 miRNAs by northern hybridization. In this study we used RT-PCR to confirm the expression of an additional twenty-seven OvHV-2-encoded miRNAs. All thirty-five OvHV-2 miRNAs are expressed from the same virus genome strand and the majority (30) are encoded in an approximately 9 kb region that contains no predicted virus open reading frames. Future identification of the cellular and virus targets of these miRNAs will inform our understanding of MCF pathogenesis.