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Journal of Virology


MicroRNA-155 (miR-155) has been shown to play significant roles in the immune response, including in the formation of germinal centers (GC) and the development and maturation of T follicular helper (Tfh) cells. There is in vitro evidence to support a critical role for cellular miR-155 and viral miR-155 homologs in the establishment of gammaherpesvirus latency in B cells. We sought to determine the contribution of miR-155 to the establishment and maintenance of latency in vivousing murine gammaherpesvirus (MHV-68) infection. MHV-68-infected mice deficient in miR-155 exhibited decreases in GC B cells and Tfh cells. However, the frequencies of spleen cells harboring latent MHV-68 genomes were the same in both miR-155-deficient and wild-type (WT) mice. Similar latent loads were also observed in mixed bone marrow chimeric mice, where B cell-extrinsic effects of miR-155 deficiency were normalized. Interestingly, we observed markedly lower efficiency of reactivation from latency in miR-155-deficient cells, indicating an important role for miR-155 in this process. These in vivo data complement previous in vitro studies and lead to the conclusion that miR-155 is not necessary for the establishment or maintenance of gammaherpesvirus latency but that it does affect reactivation efficiency.