Idiosyncrasies of Viral Noncoding RNAs Provide Insights into Host Cell Biology

Johanna B. Withers, Vanessa Mondol, Paulina Pawlica, Nicolle A. Rosa-Mercado, Kazimierz T. Tycowski, Salehe Ghasempur, Seyed F. Torabi, Joan A. Steitz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

11 Scopus citations


Like their host cells, many viruses express noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs). Despite the technical challenge of ascribing function to ncRNAs, diverse biological roles for virally expressed ncRNAs have been described, including regulation of viral replication, modulation of host gene expression, host immune evasion, cellular survival, and cellular transformation. Insights into conserved interactions between viral ncRNAs and host cell machinery frequently lead to novel findings concerning host cell biology. In this review, we discuss the functions and biogenesis of ncRNAs produced by animal viruses. Specifically, we describe noncanonical pathways of microRNA (miRNA) biogenesis and novel mechanisms used by viruses to manipulate miRNA and messenger RNA stability. We also highlight recent advances in understanding the function of viral long ncRNAs and circular RNAs.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)297-317
Number of pages21
JournalAnnual Review of Virology
StatePublished - 29 Sep 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • noncoding RNA
  • virus-host interactions
  • viruses


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