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An avian retrovirus uses canonical expression and processing mechanisms to generate viral microRNA

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    Rights statement: Copyright © 2014 Yao et al. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2-9
JournalJournal of Virology
Issue number1
Early online date23 Oct 2013
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2014


To date, the vast majority of virus-encoded miRNAs are derived from polymerase II transcripts encoded by DNA viruses. Recent demonstration that the bovine leukemia virus, a retrovirus, uses RNA polymerase III to directly transcribe the pre-miRNA hairpins to generate viral miRNAs further supports the common notion that the canonical pathway of miRNA biogenesis doesn't exist commonly among RNA viruses. Here, we show that the E (XSR) element of avian leukosis virus subgroup J (ALV-J), a member of avian retrovirus, encodes a novel miRNA, designated as E (XSR) miRNA, using the canonical miRNA biogenesis pathway. Detection of novel microRNA species derived from E (XSR) element, a 148-nucleotide non-coding RNA with hairpin structure, showed that E (XSR) element has the potential to function as microRNA primary transcript, demonstrating a hitherto unknown function with possible roles in myeloid leukosis associated with ALV-J.

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