Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(5):565-576. doi:10.7150/ijbs.24562 This issue


Epstein-Barr virus-encoded microRNAs as regulators in host immune responses

Man Wang, Fei Yu, Wei Wu, Yu Wang, Han Ding, Lili Qian

Institute for Translational Medicine, Medical College of Qingdao University, Dengzhou Road 38, Qingdao 266021, China

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Wang M, Yu F, Wu W, Wang Y, Ding H, Qian L. Epstein-Barr virus-encoded microRNAs as regulators in host immune responses. Int J Biol Sci 2018; 14(5):565-576. doi:10.7150/ijbs.24562. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Epstein-Barr virus (EBV) is an oncogenic virus that infects over 90% of the world's adult population. EBV can establish life-long latent infection in host due to the balance between EBV and host immune system. EBV latency is associated with various malignancies such as nasopharyngeal carcinoma, gastric carcinoma and Burkitt's lymphoma. EBV is the first human virus that has the capability to encode microRNAs (miRNAs). Remarkably, EBV-encoded miRNAs are abundantly expressed in latently-infected cells and serve important function in viral infection and pathogenesis. Increasing evidence indicates that EBV miRNAs target the host mRNAs involved in cell proliferation, apoptosis and transformation. EBV miRNAs also inhibit the expression of viral antigens, thereby enabling infected cells to escape immune recognition. Intriguingly, EBV miRNAs directly suppress host antiviral immunity by interfering with antigen presentation and immune cell activation. This review will update the current knowledge about EBV miRNAs implicated in host immune responses. An in-depth understanding of the functions of EBV miRNAs in host antiviral immunity will shed light on the EBV-host interactions and provide potential therapeutic targets for the treatment of EBV-associated malignancies.

Keywords: Epstein-Barr virus, antiviral immunity, microRNA, therapeutic target, EBV-associated malignancies