Cell death pathways and viruses: Role of microRNAs

Javid Sadri Nahand, Layla Shojaie, Seyed Amirreza Akhlagh, Mohammad Saeid Ebrahimi, Hamid Reza Mirzaei, Hossein Bannazadeh Baghi, Maryam Mahjoubin-Tehran, Nima Rezaei, Michael R. Hamblin, Vida Tajiknia, Neda Rahimian, Hamed Mirzaei

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)


Viral infections lead to the death of more than a million people each year around the world, both directly and indirectly. Viruses interfere with many cell functions, particularly critical pathways for cell death, by affecting various intracellular mediators. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a major example of these mediators because they are involved in many (if not most) cellular mechanisms. Virus-regulated miRNAs have been implicated in three cell death pathways, namely, apoptosis, autophagy, and anoikis. Several molecules (e.g., BECN1 and B cell lymphoma 2 [BCL2] family members) are involved in both apoptosis and autophagy, while activation of anoikis leads to cell death similar to apoptosis. These mechanistic similarities suggest that common regulators, including some miRNAs (e.g., miR-21 and miR-192), are involved in different cell death pathways. Because the balance between cell proliferation and cell death is pivotal to the homeostasis of the human body, miRNAs that regulate cell death pathways have drawn much attention from researchers. miR-21 is regulated by several viruses and can affect both apoptosis and anoikis via modulating various targets, such as PDCD4, PTEN, interleukin (IL)-12, Maspin, and Fas-L. miR-34 can be downregulated by viral infection and has different effects on apoptosis, depending on the type of virus and/or host cell. The present review summarizes the existing knowledge on virus-regulated miRNAs involved in the modulation of cell death pathways. Understanding the mechanisms for virus-mediated regulation of cell death pathways could provide valuable information to improve the diagnosis and treatment of many viral diseases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)487-511
Number of pages25
JournalMolecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids
Publication statusPublished - 4 Jun 2021


  • anoikis
  • apoptosis
  • autophagy
  • cell death
  • microRNAs
  • viruses

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Medicine
  • Drug Discovery


Dive into the research topics of 'Cell death pathways and viruses: Role of microRNAs'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this