Homologous Polyomavirus MicroRNA Targets Search Using Combined Prediction Algorithms

        A particularly fascinating and poorly understood phenomenon in nature is the warring relationship between a virus and its infected host. Like players in a turn-based strategy game, host organisms have continuously developed intricate defense mechanisms against viral invasion, while viruses have continuously evolved novel immune system evasion tactics to counter the antiviral host defense systems. One of the strategies that viruses and organisms employ in their competition is the use of microRNAs (miRNAs) to modulate protein synthesis. The function of miRNAs is to repress translation by imperfect complementary binding to mRNA transcripts and therefore is an example of RNA interference (RNAi). Amusingly, the RNAi machinery that is believed to have evolved as an antiviral defense mechanism in the host is employed by viruses to become ever-more stealthy. A major hurdle in understanding viral-host interactions is due to the unknown targets of the vast majority of these miRNAs. Computational prediction of miRNA targets is exceedingly difficult due to its appalling false positive rates. This project is specifically aimed at predicting miRNAs from three human polyomaviruses and one macaque polyomavirus under the presumption that the viral targets are conserved cross-species.

 Simian 40 Virus (http://en.wikipedia.org)
Electron Micrograph of SV40