Marek's Disease Virus Cluster 3 miRNAs Restrict Virus' Early Cytolytic Replication and Pathogenesis. Academic Article uri icon


  • Herpesvirus-encoded microRNAs (miRNAs) have been discovered in infected cells; however, lack of a suitable animal model has hampered functional analyses of viral miRNAs in vivo. Marek's disease virus (MDV) (Gallid alphaherpesvirus 2, GaHV-2) genome contains 14 miRNA precursors, which encode 26 mature miRNAs, grouped into three clusters. In this study, the role of MDV-encoded cluster 3 miRNAs, also known as mdv1-miR-M8-M10, in pathogenesis was evaluated in chickens, the natural host of MDV. Our results show that deletion of cluster 3 miRNAs did not affect virus replication and plaque size in cell culture, but increased early cytolytic replication of MDV in chickens. We also observed that deletion of cluster 3 miRNAs resulted in significantly higher virus reactivation from peripheral blood lymphocytes. In addition, pathogenesis studies showed that deletion of cluster 3 miRNAs resulted in more severe atrophy of lymphoid organs and reduced mean death time, but did not affect the incidence of MDV-associated visceral tumors. We confirmed these results by generating a cluster 3 miRNA revertant virus in which the parental MDV phenotype was restored. To the best of our knowledge, our study provides the first evidence that MDV cluster 3 miRNAs play an important role in modulating MDV pathogenesis.

published proceedings

  • Viruses

author list (cited authors)

  • Liao, Y., Zhuang, G., Sun, A., Khan, O. A., Lupiani, B., & Reddy, S. M.

citation count

  • 5

complete list of authors

  • Liao, Yifei||Zhuang, Guoqing||Sun, Aijun||Khan, Owais A||Lupiani, Blanca||Reddy, Sanjay M

publication date

  • November 2020