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Archived Comments for: Host-virus interaction: a new role for microRNAs

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  1. “Host-virus interaction: a new role for microRNA’s” critique

    Kristofer Mussar, GW Student

    19 October 2006

    As a graduate student who just started his research in the field of bioinformatics; it is interesting to note that my major concentration just happens to be for microRNA’s. So after reading this review article I had a few comments to make. On the whole, I think the article is very informative, but question the lack of specificity concerning certain topics. Many topics are introduced and could benefit from more explanation (I am aware that this is only a review article, but still). For example, the article mentioned RNA interference, and I believe that perhaps a small paragraph in the background section briefing the readers of the RNA interference mechanism could be helpful to fully understanding microRNA activity. More information concerning viral suppressors of RNAi mediated gene silencing could be beneficial. I believe that more diagrams can be inserted to this review to help explain certain processes as well as gain a broader audience. I guess what I mean is that some people can understand difficult concepts if they are presented visually. Maybe inserting a figure explaining microRNA’s roll as an antiviral defense mechanism (Either generically or for specific viruses) would help. While discussing the computational tools, it seemed as if the only thing discussed were the algorithms (Which are the most important don’t get me wrong). I believe that a few sentences covering what platforms were utilized could be useful. This can be done when discussing homology of viral microRNA’s. Overall, the review was extremely enlightening, and I am optimistic for the future direction of this research.

    Competing interests

    None declared

  2. Article Comments

    Josef Mejido, GWU

    19 October 2006

    This article provides a well thought out and concise review of microRNAs and their role in both viral and host biological environments / interactions. As with any review however, only a certain level of introductory detail is given on each of the covered topics, which requires the reader to follow up on areas of interest instead of finding in depth data and results within the body of the article. I must say though, that the authors did a very good job of referencing articles for each topic and section so that readers can easily access additional information when desired. However, in the three instances of citing “unpublished results”, it would have been more beneficial to reference and describe work that has been already been published than to talk about studies that are yet to be available for readers to access and review.

    In the section describing how viruses can possibly down-regulate genes in an effort to circumvent the host immune response, it would have been nice to see examples (if any) of possible viral microRNAs that can reduce interferon signaling or the natural interferon antiviral response by lets say reducing cellular levels of STAT1, STAT2, IRF9, RIG-I, MX1, OAS1, OAS2, PKR, TLRs etc.

    On an unrelated note, I would have liked to have seen a few more tables and/or figures that depict how these cellular mechanisms work or some of the underlying data that supports such findings (i.e. actual microarray data, diagram depicting possible therapeutic approaches, etc). Overall, this was a well written summary of microRNA research and how it applies to both virus and host organism research that I would recommend to my colleagues.

    Competing interests

    None declared

  3. Comment on Retrovirololgy, 2006, 3:68 article; Scaria et al.

    Amy Nguyen, George Washington University

    6 November 2006

    This article presents a unique perspective for miRNA function in that the idea of miRNA-mRNA cross-talk is detailed and discussed with regard to a “host-pathogen interface”. The authors really hit home in discussing the importance of this as a potential breakthrough in truly understanding host-pathogen interactions with regard to infection, potential treatment, and prognosis. The authors discuss the potential for miRNAs as attractive candidates in the biotherapeutic arena and they appropriately point out several examples (primate foamy virus, for example) of how it appears that the host even benefits from endogenous miRNA activity in preventing infection. Although many readers may not be completely familiar with this expanding interest of the possible use of miRNA in therapy, the potential impact of this paper in stimulating ideas and research in this area is enormous.

    The figures provided do show the endogenous processes involved in siRNA/miRNA processing and are helpful in overall understanding of these processes. However, an additional figure would be helpful for reader understanding of the potential cross-talk at the host-pathogen interface, as this is a fairly novel idea. There are several specific examples presented of miRNA as a positive and negative regulator and a figure bringing some of these examples together would be very helpful. Such a figure could incorporate the idea of the interacting miRNA pathways for the host, for the virus, and the locations of these interactions for which current knowledge in the field was presented in the article, and possible locations in these pathways where therapeutic intervention could be possible.

    Competing interests

    None declared

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