Anti-apoptotic function of a microRNA encoded by the HSV-1 latency-associated transcript. Gupta A, Gartner JJ, Sethupathy P, Hatzigeorgiou AG, Fraser NW
Nature 2006 May 31
Ive alyways wondered about how many viruses stay latent within the body and then activate upon certain stimulus (HIV is the prime example). This paper is remarkable in that it finds that a single gene is expressed during latency in neurons, but curously this gene is not translated into protein. They find that this gene is actually a microRNA that represses members of the TGF-beta pathway. So the idea is that by modulating the signaling in this pathway via microRNA the virus remains latent and undetected within the host cell.
As of late miRNAs have really come forward as a mjor factor in many biological processes. Seems that the next era of drugs may be nucleotide targeting that specifically inhibit the activity of specific miRNAs. Maybe something akin to the gene gun which basically shoots a cell with small bullets covered in the nucleotide sequence and its been shown that cells can integrate this sequence.