Autophagy is known to be involved in viral infection. However, the relationship between autophagy and viral infection has not been characterized. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), important regulators of gene transcription, play central roles in many biologic processes, including autophagy and viral infection. It was therefore of interest to investigate the miRNAs regulating viral infection and host autophagy.

In their recent study, researchers from Zhejiang University observed viral infection (white spot syndrome virus, WSSV) correlated positively with the host autophagy in shrimp. Two host miRNAs (miR-71 and -13b) had significant effects on viral infection and host autophagy. MiR-71 regulated the viral infection and host autophagy by targeting the host calcification-associated peptide-1 (cap-1) gene. MiR-13b targeted the host knickkopf gene to simultaneously regulate viral infection and host autophagy. When the expressions of miR-71 and -13b were silenced in shrimp, the autophagy could not be induced by WSSV infection and the autophagy induction did not influence the virus replication, indicating that miR-71 and -13b were necessary for the viral infection and host autophagy.

In this context, the findings of this study revealed a novel mechanism of miRNAs bridging the viral infection and host autophagy in vivo.

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Reference
Y. He, Y. Sun, X. Zhang (2017) Noncoding miRNAs bridge virus infection and host autophagy in shrimp in vivo FASEB. doi: 10.1096/fj.201601141RR [abstract]

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