MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, noncoding RNA molecules that have emerged as important posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression. miRNA provides intracellular immune defense when the body is faced with challenges from transgenes, viruses, transposons, and aberrant mRNAs. miRNA molecules trigger gene silencing in eukaryotic cells. To date, more than 3,000 different human miRNAs (hsa-miRs) have been identified, and it is generally agreed that cellular gene regulation is significantly impacted by the presence of miRNAs. A single miRNA has the complex capacity to target multiple genes simultaneously. In a viral infection context, miRNAs have been connected with the interplay between host and pathogen, and occupy a major role in the host–parasite interaction and pathogenesis. While numerous viral miRNAs from DNA viruses have been identified, characterization of functional RNA virus-encoded miRNAs and their potential targets is still ongoing. Here, we describe an in silico approach to analyze the most recent Ebola virus (EBOV) genome sequences causing West African epidemics. We identified numerous “candidate” miRNAs that can be utilized to quell the Ebola virus. Future approaches will focus on experimental validation of these miRNAs during quelling the Ebola target transcripts for further elucidating their biological functions in primates and other animal models.
Part of the book: RNA Interference