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International Journal of Cell Biology
Volume 2012 (2012), Article ID 603961, 9 pages
Review Article

KSHV-Encoded MicroRNAs: Lessons for Viral Cancer Pathogenesis and Emerging Concepts

1Department of Medicine, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 86 Jonathan Lucas St., Charleston, SC 29425, USA
2Department of Craniofacial Biology, Medical University of South Carolina, 173 Ashley Avenue, Charleston, SC 29425, USA
3Key Laboratory of Arrhythmias, Ministry of Education, and Research Center for Translational Medicine, Shanghai East Hospital, Tongji University School of Medicine, Shanghai 200120, China
4Department of Pathology, Hollings Cancer Center, Medical University of South Carolina, 86 Jonathan Lucas St., Charleston, SC 29425, USA

Received 28 September 2011; Revised 5 December 2011; Accepted 6 December 2011

Academic Editor: Ivana De La Serna

Copyright © 2012 Zhiqiang Qin et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


The human genome contains microRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNAs that orchestrate a number of physiologic processes through regulation of gene expression. Burgeoning evidence suggests that dysregulation of miRNAs may promote disease progression and cancer pathogenesis. Virus-encoded miRNAs, exhibiting unique molecular signatures and functions, have been increasingly recognized as contributors to viral cancer pathogenesis. A large segment of the existing knowledge in this area has been generated through characterization of miRNAs encoded by the human gamma-herpesviruses, including the Kaposi’s sarcoma-associated herpesvirus (KSHV). Recent studies focusing on KSHV miRNAs have led to a better understanding of viral miRNA expression in human tumors, the identification of novel pathologic check points regulated by viral miRNAs, and new insights for viral miRNA interactions with cellular (“human”) miRNAs. Elucidating the functional effects of inhibiting KSHV miRNAs has also provided a foundation for further translational efforts and consideration of clinical applications. This paper summarizes recent literature outlining mechanisms for KSHV miRNA regulation of cellular function and cancer-associated pathogenesis, as well as implications for interactions between KSHV and human miRNAs that may facilitate cancer progression. Finally, insights are offered for the clinical feasibility of targeting miRNAs as a therapeutic approach for viral cancers.