The Expression of Human Cytomegalovirus MicroRNA MiR-UL148D during Latent Infection in Primary Myeloid Cells Inhibits Activin A-triggered Secretion of IL-6.

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Lau, Betty 
Krishna, Benjamin Anthony Cates  ORCID logo
Sellart, Immaculada 
Wills, Mark R 

The successful establishment and maintenance of human cytomegalovirus (HCMV) latency is dependent on the expression of a subset of viral genes. Whilst the exact spectrum and functions of these genes are far from clear, inroads have been made for protein-coding genes. In contrast, little is known about the expression of non-coding RNAs. Here we show that HCMV encoded miRNAs are expressed de novo during latent infection of primary myeloid cells. Furthermore, we demonstrate that miR-UL148D, one of the most highly expressed viral miRNAs during latent infection, directly targets the cellular receptor ACVR1B of the activin signalling axis. Consistent with this, we observed upregulation of ACVR1B expression during latent infection with a miR-UL148D deletion virus (ΔmiR-UL148D). Importantly, we observed that monocytes latently infected with ΔmiR-UL148D are more responsive to activin A stimulation, as demonstrated by their increased secretion of IL-6. Collectively, our data indicates miR-UL148D inhibits ACVR1B expression in latently infected cells to limit proinflammatory cytokine secretion, perhaps as an immune evasion strategy or to postpone cytokine-induced reactivation until conditions are more favourable. This is the first demonstration of an HCMV miRNA function during latency in primary myeloid cells, implicating that small RNA species may contribute significantly to latent infection.

Activin Receptors, Type I, Activins, Cells, Cultured, Cytokines, Cytomegalovirus, Gene Expression Regulation, Humans, Interleukin-6, MicroRNAs, Monocytes, Myeloid Cells, Up-Regulation, Virus Latency
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Springer Science and Business Media LLC
Medical Research Council (MR/K021087/1)
Medical Research Council (G0701279)
We acknowledge the support from the NIHR UK Biomedical Research Centre (Cambridge) and the British Medical Research Council.