Infectious bursal disease (IBD) is an acute, highly contagious and immunosuppressive avian disease caused by infectious bursal disease virus (IBDV). In recent years, remarkable progress has been made in the understanding of the pathogenesis of IBDV infection and the host response, including apoptosis, autophagy and the inhibition of innate immunity. Not only a number of host proteins interacting with or targeted by viral proteins participate in these processes, but microRNAs (miRNAs) are also involved in the host response to IBDV infection. If an IBDV–host interaction at the protein level is taken imaginatively as the front line of the battle between invaders (pathogens) and defenders (host cells), their fight at the RNA level resembles the hidden front line. miRNAs are a class of non-coding single-stranded endogenous RNA molecules with a length of approximately 22 nucleotides (nt) that play important roles in regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Insights into the roles of viral proteins and miRNAs in host response will add to the understanding of the pathogenesis of IBDV infection. The interaction of viral proteins with cellular targets during IBDV infection were previously well-reviewed. This review focuses mainly on the current knowledge of the host response to IBDV infection at the RNA level, in particular, of the nine well-characterized miRNAs that affect cell apoptosis, the innate immune response and viral replication.
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