In the past few years, noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) have emerged as key modulators of the transcriptional and post-transcriptional control of a variety of cellular processes such as development, signaling, homeostasis and oncogenesis. Like their host cells, many viruses produce ncRNAs. During viral infection, and in order to establish persistent life-long infection of the host, viruses express both protein-coding and noncoding genes, modulating the cellular environment to favor infection. Given their limited genomic capacity, viruses evolved or acquired ncRNAs only if advantageous, either by enhancing the viral life cycle or assisting the virus in immune evasion of the host's response to infection. With variable length, structure, number, abundance and protein-binding partners, viral ncRNAs show specificity and diversity with respect to time of expression during the different stages of the virus life cycle and viral infection. Here, we review our current knowledge on the RNA-based mechanisms that regulate host-virus interaction focusing on viral ncRNAs and cellular ncRNAs modulated by viruses upon infection.
- immune response