Epigenetic Silencing of MicroRNA-126 Promotes Cell Growth in Marek’s Disease

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During latency, herpesvirus infection results in the establishment of a dormant state in which a restricted set of viral genes are expressed. Together with alterations of the viral genome, several host genes undergo epigenetic silencing during latency. These epigenetic dysregulations of cellular genes might be involved in the development of cancer. In this context, Gallid alphaher-pesvirus 2 (GaHV-2), causing Marek’s disease (MD) in susceptible chicken, was shown to impair the expression of several cellular microRNAs (miRNAs). We decided to focus on gga-miR-126, a host miRNA considered a tumor suppressor through signaling pathways controlling cell prolifera-tion. Our objectives were to analyze the cause and the impact of miR-126 silencing during GaHV-2 infection. This cellular miRNA was found to be repressed at crucial steps of the viral infection. In order to determine whether miR-126 low expression level was associated with specific epigenetic signatures, DNA methylation patterns were established in the miR-126 gene promoter. Repression was associated with hypermethylation at a CpG island located in the miR-126 host gene epidermal growth factor like-7 (EGFL-7). A strategy was developed to conditionally overexpress miR-126 and control miRNAs in transformed CD4+ T cells propagated from Marek’s disease (MD) lymphoma. This functional assay showed that miR-126 restoration specifically diminishes cell proliferation. We identified CT10 regulator of kinase (CRK), an adaptor protein dysregulated in several human malignancies, as a candidate target gene. Indeed, CRK protein levels were markedly reduced by the miR-126 restoration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1339
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2021


  • CRK
  • EGFL-7
  • Epigenetic silencing
  • Gallid alphaherpesvirus 2
  • Herpesvirus
  • Marek’s disease
  • Micro-RNA-126
  • Tumorigenesis


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