MicroRNAs (miRNAs), first discovered in the year 1993 in the nematode C. elegans, are small, approximately 22-nucleotide-long, non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression. Cellular miRNAs have been implicated in the control of many biological processes, and their dysregulation is associated with different diseases. They can be significantly up/downregulated upon infection or disease, serving as excellent biomarkers and therapeutic targets. Several human DNA viruses, including many herpesviruses, have now been reported to encode viral miRNAs. There are a variety of possible interactions and mechanisms of viral microRNAs (vmiRNAs) which are yet to be remains obscure. Viral miRNAs can function as orthologs of cellular miRNAs and regulate their expression. Additionally, viruses have also developed vmiRNA mechanisms to avoid being targeted by the host miRNAs. Herpes Simplex Viruses (HSV-1 & HSV-2) cause genital and oral herpes, establishing lifelong latent infections in their hosts, and it is one of the most prevalent sexually transmitted infections (STIs) worldwide. vmiRNAs play essential roles in Herpesvirus biology. In this chapter, we will discuss the current knowledge about miRNAs and their role in different stages of Herpesvirus infection. It will also elaborate the biomarkers, therapeutic potential of these molecules, and the prospective areas of future research.
Part of the book: Current Perspectives on Viral Disease Outbreaks