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The v-rel oncoprotein encoded by reticuloendotheliosis virus T strain (Rev-T) is a member of the rel/NF-κB family of transcription factors capable of transformation of primary chicken spleen and bone marrow cells. Rapid transformation of avian haematopoietic cells by v-rel occurs through a process of deregulation of multiple protein-encoding genes through its direct effect on their promoters. More recently, upregulation of oncogenic miR-155 and its precursor pre-miR-155 was demonstrated in both Rev-T-infected chicken embryo fibroblast cultures and Rev-T-induced B-cell lymphomas. Through electrophoresis mobility shift assay and reporter analysis on the gga-miR-155 promoter, we showed that the v-rel-induced miR-155 overexpression occurred by the direct binding to one of the putative NF-κB binding sites. Using the v-rel-induced transformation model on chicken embryonic splenocyte cultures, we could demonstrate a dynamic increase in miR-155 levels during the transformation. Transcriptome profiles of lymphoid cells transformed by v-rel showed upregulation of miR-155 accompanied by downregulation of a number of putative miR-155 targets such as Pu.1 and CEBPβ. We also showed that v-rel could rescue the suppression of miR-155 expression observed in Marek's disease virus (MDV)-transformed cell lines, where its functional viral homologue MDV-miR-M4 is overexpressed. Demonstration of gene expression changes affecting major molecular pathways, including organismal injury and cancer in avian macrophages transfected with synthetic mature miR-155, underlines its potential direct role in transformation. Our study suggests that v-rel-induced transformation involves a complex set of events mediated by the direct activation of NF-κB targets, together with inhibitory effects on microRNA targets.


Yongxiu Yao, Deepali Vasoya, Lydia Kgosana, Lorraine P Smith, Yulong Gao, Xiaomei Wang, Mick Watson, Venugopal Nair. Activation of gga-miR-155 by reticuloendotheliosis virus T strain and its contribution to transformation. The Journal of general virology. 2017 Apr;98(4):810-820

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PMID: 28113043

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