Viruses are intracellular parasites that ensure their existence by converting host cells into viral particle producing entities or into hiding places rendering the virus invisible to the host immune system. Some viruses may also survive by transforming the infected cell into an immortal tumour cell. MicroRNAs are small non-coding transcripts that function as posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression. Viruses encode miRNAs that regulate expression of both cellular and viral genes, and contribute to the pathogenic properties of viruses. Hence, neutralizing the action of viral miRNAs expression by complementary single-stranded oligonucleotides or so-called anti-miRNAs may represent a strategy to combat viral infections and viral-induced pathogenesis. This review describes the miRNAs encoded by human viruses, and discusses the possible therapeutic applications of anti-miRNAs against viral diseases.
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