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Hepatitis B Virus and microRNAs: A Bioinformatics Approach (01a Articolo in rivista)

Zulian V., Fiscon G., Paci P., Garbuglia A. R.

In recent decades, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as key regulators of gene expression, and the identification of viral miRNAs (v-miRNAs) within some viruses, including hepatitis B virus (HBV), has attracted significant attention. HBV infections often progress to chronic states (CHB) and may induce fibrosis/cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). The presence of HBV can dysregulate host miRNA expression, influencing several biological pathways, such as apoptosis, innate and immune response, viral replication, and pathogenesis. Consequently, miRNAs are considered a promising biomarker for diagnostic, prognostic, and treatment response. The dynamics of miRNAs during HBV infection are multifaceted, influenced by host variability and miRNA interactions. Given the ability of miRNAs to target multiple messenger RNA (mRNA), understanding the viral–host (human) interplay is complex but essential to develop novel clinical applications. Therefore, bioinformatics can help to analyze, identify, and interpret a vast amount of miRNA data. This review explores the bioinformatics tools available for viral and host miRNA research. Moreover, we introduce a brief overview focusing on the role of miRNAs during HBV infection. In this way, this review aims to help the selection of the most appropriate bioinformatics tools based on requirements and research goals.
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