Important roles of microRNAs (miRNAs) in regulating the host response during viral infection have begun to be defined. However, little is known about the functional roles of miRNAs within an in vivoacute viral encephalitis model. Therefore, researchers from the University of Manitoba identified global changes in miRNA expression during acute herpes simplex virus type 1 (HSV-1) encephalitis (HSVE) in mice.

Their study found that many of the highly upregulated miRNAs (miR-155, miR-146a and miR-15b) detected in HSV-1 infected brain tissue are known regulators of inflammation and innate immunity. They also observed upregulation of 7 members belonging to the related group of miRNAs, the miR-200 family and miR-182 cluster (miR-200/182). Using in situ hybridization, they found that these miRNAs co-localized to regions of the brain with severe HSVE-related pathology and were upregulated in various cell types including neurons. Induction was apparent but not limited to cells in which HSV-1 was detected by immunohistochemistry, suggesting possible roles of these miRNAs in the host response to viral-induced tissue damage. Bioinformatics target prediction combined with gene expression profiling revealed that the induced miR-200/182 members could regulate the biosynthesis of heparan sulfate proteoglycans. Using luciferase assays, they found that miR-96, miR-141, miR-183 and miR-200c all potentially targeted the syndecan-2 gene (Sdc2), which codes for a cell surface heparan sulfate proteoglycan involved in HSV-1 cellular attachment and entry.


Majer A, Caligiuri KA, Gale KK, Niu Y, Phillipson CS, Booth TF, et al.  (2017) miR-200/182 Members in the Brains of Mice Are Associated with Acute Herpes Simplex Virus 1 Encephalitis. PLoS ONE 12(1): e0169081. [article]

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