Special Issue "MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections"

A special issue of Viruses (ISSN 1999-4915).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (15 September 2020).

Special Issue Editors

Dr. Kenneth W. Witwer
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, Baltimore, USA
Interests: retroviruses; innate immunity; extracellular vesicles; extracellular RNA; neurodegenerative disease; substance use disorders
Dr. Sowmya V. Yelamanchili
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Anesthesiology, University of Nebraska Medical Center, Omaha, NE, USA
Interests: small RNAs; extracellular vesicles; drug addiction; chronic inflammation; stem cells and brain organoids

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

microRNAs (miRNAs) and other small RNAs are involved in regulating several disease processes, including viral infections and host response. For example, miRNAs may restrict viral replication by downregulating viral RNAs or cellular cofactors or enhance it by downmodulating host restriction factors. Small RNAs processed from host or viral RNAs may act to stabilize viral RNA structure or to enforce viral latency in the nucleus. Outside the cell, small RNAs from miRNAs to degradome products may betray the presence of viral infection or be shuttled between cells in extracellular vesicles. This Special Issue examines current knowledge and new developments in the study of small RNAs and viruses.

Dr. Kenneth W. Witwer
Dr. Sowmya V. Yelamanchili
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

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Keywords

  • microRNA
  • small RNA
  • noncoding RNA
  • viruses
  • extracellular vesicles
  • extracellular RNA
  • viral RNA
  • restriction factors

Published Papers (9 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
The Relevance of MicroRNAs in the Pathogenesis and Prognosis of HCV-Disease: The Emergent Role of miR-17-92 in Cryoglobulinemic Vasculitis
Viruses 2020, 12(12), 1364; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121364 - 29 Nov 2020
Viewed by 489
Abstract
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health problem. HCV is a hepatotropic and lymphotropic virus that leads to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and lymphoproliferative disorders such as cryoglobulinemic vasculitis (CV) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The molecular mechanisms by which HCV induces these [...] Read more.
Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a major public health problem. HCV is a hepatotropic and lymphotropic virus that leads to hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) and lymphoproliferative disorders such as cryoglobulinemic vasculitis (CV) and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma (NHL). The molecular mechanisms by which HCV induces these diseases are not fully understood. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding molecules that negatively regulate post-transcriptional gene expression by decreasing their target gene expression. We will attempt to summarize the current knowledge on the role of miRNAs in the HCV life cycle, HCV-related HCC, and lymphoproliferative disorders, focusing on both the functional effects of their deregulation as well as on their putative role as biomarkers, based on association analyses. We will also provide original new data regarding the miR 17-92 cluster in chronically infected HCV patients with and without lymphoproliferative disorders who underwent antiviral therapy. All of the cluster members were significantly upregulated in CV patients compared to patients without CV and significantly decreased in those who achieved vasculitis clinical remission after viral eradication. To conclude, miRNAs play an important role in HCV infection and related oncogenic processes, but their molecular pathways are not completely clear. In some cases, they may be potential therapeutic targets or non-invasive biomarkers of tumor progression. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessArticle
Disruption of Zika Virus xrRNA1-Dependent sfRNA1 Production Results in Tissue-Specific Attenuated Viral Replication
Viruses 2020, 12(10), 1177; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12101177 - 18 Oct 2020
Viewed by 756
Abstract
The Zika virus (ZIKV), like other flaviviruses, produces several species of sub-genomic RNAs (sfRNAs) during infection, corresponding to noncoding RNA fragments of different lengths that result from the exonuclease degradation of the viral 3′ untranslated region (UTR). Over the course of infection, these [...] Read more.
The Zika virus (ZIKV), like other flaviviruses, produces several species of sub-genomic RNAs (sfRNAs) during infection, corresponding to noncoding RNA fragments of different lengths that result from the exonuclease degradation of the viral 3′ untranslated region (UTR). Over the course of infection, these sfRNAs accumulate in the cell as a result of an incomplete viral genome degradation of the 3′ UTR by the host 5′ to 3′ exoribonuclease, Xrn1. The halting of Xrn1 in the 3′ UTR is due to two RNA pseudoknot structures in the 3′ UTR, termed exoribonuclease-resistant RNA1 and 2 (xrRNA1&2). Studies with related flaviviruses have shown that sfRNAs are important for pathogenicity and inhibiting both mosquito and mammalian host defense mechanisms. However, these investigations have not included ZIKV and there is very limited data addressing how sfRNAs impact infection in a whole animal model or specific tissues. In this study, we generate a sfRNA1-deficient ZIKV (X1) by targeted mutation in the xrRNA1 3′ UTR structure. We find that the X1 virus lacks the production of the largest ZIKV sfRNA species, sfRNA1. Using the X1 virus to infect adult Ifnar1/ mice, we find that while the lack of sfRNA1 does not alter ZIKV replication in the spleen, there is a significant reduction of ZIKV genome replication in the brain and placenta compared to wild-type ZIKV infection. Despite the attenuated phenotype of the X1 ZIKV, mice develop a robust neutralizing antibody response. We conclude that the targeted disruption of xrRNA1 results in tissue-specific attenuation while still supporting robust neutralizing antibody responses. Future studies will need to investigate the tissue-specific mechanisms by which ZIKV sfRNAs influence infection and may utilize targeted xrRNA mutations to develop novel attenuated flavivirus vaccine approaches. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessArticle
Long Term Delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol Administration Inhibits Proinflammatory Responses in Minor Salivary Glands of Chronically Simian Immunodeficieny Virus Infected Rhesus Macaques
Viruses 2020, 12(7), 713; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12070713 - 01 Jul 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1045
Abstract
HIV/SIV-associated oral mucosal disease/dysfunction (HAOMD) (gingivitis/periodontitis/salivary adenitis) represents a major comorbidity affecting HIV patients on anti-retroviral therapy. Using a systems biology approach, we investigated molecular changes (mRNA/microRNA) underlying HAOMD and its modulation by phytocannabinoids (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC)) in uninfected (n = [...] Read more.
HIV/SIV-associated oral mucosal disease/dysfunction (HAOMD) (gingivitis/periodontitis/salivary adenitis) represents a major comorbidity affecting HIV patients on anti-retroviral therapy. Using a systems biology approach, we investigated molecular changes (mRNA/microRNA) underlying HAOMD and its modulation by phytocannabinoids (delta-9-tetrahydrocannabinol (∆9-THC)) in uninfected (n = 5) and SIV-infected rhesus macaques untreated (VEH-untreated/SIV; n = 7) or treated with vehicle (VEH/SIV; n = 3) or ∆9-THC (THC/SIV; n = 3). Relative to controls, fewer mRNAs were upregulated in THC/SIV compared to VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. Gene enrichment analysis showed differential enrichment of biological functions involved in anti-viral defense, Type-I interferon, Toll-like receptor, RIG-1 and IL1R signaling in VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. We focused on the anti-ER-stress anterior gradient-2 (AGR2), epithelial barrier protecting and anti-dysbiotic WAP Four-Disulfide Core Domain-2 (WFDC2) and glucocorticoid-induced anti-inflammatory TSC22D3 (TSC22-domain family member-3) that were significantly downregulated in oropharyngeal mucosa (OPM) of VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. All three proteins localized to minor salivary gland acini and secretory ducts and showed enhanced and reduced expression in OPM of THC/SIV and VEH/SIV macaques, respectively. Additionally, inflammation associated miR-21, miR-142-3p and miR-29b showed significantly higher expression in OPM of VEH-untreated/SIV macaques. TSC22D3 was validated as a target of miR-29b. These preliminary translational findings suggest that phytocannabinoids may safely and effectively reduce oral inflammatory responses in HIV/SIV and other (autoimmune) diseases. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessArticle
microRNA-99a Restricts Replication of Hepatitis C Virus by Targeting mTOR and De Novo Lipogenesis
Viruses 2020, 12(7), 696; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12070696 - 27 Jun 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 1045
Abstract
In this study, we investigated the role of microRNA-99a (miR-99a) in hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and lipogenesis in hepatocytes. Cell-culture-derived HCV (HCVcc) infection caused down-regulation of miR-99a in Huh-7 cells, and the relative levels of miR-99a were significantly lower in the sera [...] Read more.
In this study, we investigated the role of microRNA-99a (miR-99a) in hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication and lipogenesis in hepatocytes. Cell-culture-derived HCV (HCVcc) infection caused down-regulation of miR-99a in Huh-7 cells, and the relative levels of miR-99a were significantly lower in the sera of the HCV-infected patients than in those of healthy controls. Transfection of miR-99a-5p mimics resulted in a decrease in the intracellular and secreted HCV RNA levels. It also caused a decreased mammalian target of rapamycin (mTOR) protein level and phosphorylation of its downstream targets in HCV-replicating cells. Sterol regulatory element binding protein (SREBP)-1c expression and intracellular lipid accumulation decreased when either miR-99a-5p mimics or si-mTOR was transfected in oleic acid-treated Huh-7 cells. Overexpression of mTOR rescued HCV RNA replication and lipid droplet accumulation in miR-99a-5p mimics-transfected HCV replicon cells. Our data demonstrated that miR-99a ameliorates intracellular lipid accumulation by regulating mTOR/SREBP-1c and causes inefficient replication and packaging of intracellular HCV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessArticle
MiR-202-5p Inhibits RIG-I-Dependent Innate Immune Responses to RGNNV Infection by Targeting TRIM25 to Mediate RIG-I Ubiquitination
Viruses 2020, 12(3), 261; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12030261 - 27 Feb 2020
Cited by 3 | Viewed by 929
Abstract
The RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) signaling pathway is essential for inducing type I interferon (IFN) responses to viral infections. Meanwhile, it is also tightly regulated to prevent uncontrolled immune responses. Numerous studies have shown that microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential for the regulation of immune [...] Read more.
The RIG-I-like receptors (RLRs) signaling pathway is essential for inducing type I interferon (IFN) responses to viral infections. Meanwhile, it is also tightly regulated to prevent uncontrolled immune responses. Numerous studies have shown that microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential for the regulation of immune processes, however, the detailed molecular mechanism of miRNA regulating the RLRs signaling pathway remains to be elucidated. Here, our results showed that miR-202-5p was induced by red spotted grouper nervous necrosis virus (RGNNV) infection in zebrafish. Overexpression of miR-202-5p led to reduced expression of IFN 1 and its downstream antiviral genes, thus facilitating viral replication in vitro. In comparison, significantly enhanced levels of IFN 1 and antiviral genes and significantly low viral burden were observed in the miR-202-5p-/- zebrafish compared to wild type zebrafish. Subsequently, zebrafish tripartite motif-containing protein 25 (zbTRIM25) was identified as a target of miR-202-5p in both zebrafish and humans. Ectopic expression of miR-202-5p suppressed zbTRIM25-mediated RLRs signaling pathway. Furthermore, we showed that miR-202-5p inhibited zbTRIM25-mediated zbRIG-I ubiquitination and activation of IFN production. In conclusion, we demonstrate that RGNNV-inducible miR-202-5p acts as a negative regulator of zbRIG-I-triggered antiviral innate response by targeting zbTRIM25. Our study reveals a novel mechanism for the evasion of the innate immune response controlled by RGNNV. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
miRNAs as Potential Biomarkers for Viral Hepatitis B and C
Viruses 2020, 12(12), 1440; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12121440 - 14 Dec 2020
Viewed by 879
Abstract
Around 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus (HBV) chronic infection and 71 million with hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infection. Both HBV and HCV infections can lead to liver complications such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To take care [...] Read more.
Around 257 million people are living with hepatitis B virus (HBV) chronic infection and 71 million with hepatitis C virus (HCV) chronic infection. Both HBV and HCV infections can lead to liver complications such as cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). To take care of these chronically infected patients, one strategy is to diagnose the early stage of fibrosis in order to treat them as soon as possible to decrease the risk of HCC development. microRNAs (or miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs which regulate many cellular processes in metazoans. Their expressions were frequently modulated by up- or down-regulation during fibrosis progression. In the serum of patients with HBV chronic infection (CHB), miR-122 and miR-185 expressions are increased, while miR-29, -143, -21 and miR-223 expressions are decreased during fibrosis progression. In the serum of patients with HCV chronic infection (CHC), miR-143 and miR-223 expressions are increased, while miR-122 expression is decreased during fibrosis progression. This review aims to summarize current knowledge of principal miRNAs modulation involved in fibrosis progression during chronic hepatitis B/C infections. Furthermore, we also discuss the potential use of miRNAs as non-invasive biomarkers to diagnose fibrosis with the intention of prioritizing patients with advanced fibrosis for treatment and surveillance. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessReview
Small RNA Plays Important Roles in Virus–Host Interactions
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1271; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111271 - 07 Nov 2020
Cited by 1 | Viewed by 827
Abstract
Non-coding small RNAs play important roles in virus–host interactions. For hosts, small RNAs can serve as sensors in antiviral pathways including RNAi and CRISPR; for viruses, small RNAs can be involved in viral transcription and replication. This paper covers several recent discoveries on [...] Read more.
Non-coding small RNAs play important roles in virus–host interactions. For hosts, small RNAs can serve as sensors in antiviral pathways including RNAi and CRISPR; for viruses, small RNAs can be involved in viral transcription and replication. This paper covers several recent discoveries on small RNA mediated virus–host interactions, and focuses on influenza virus cap-snatching and a few important virus sensors including PIR-1, RIG-I like protein DRH-1 and piRNAs. The paper also discusses recent advances in mammalian antiviral RNAi. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessReview
Role of MicroRNAs in Bone Pathology during Chikungunya Virus Infection
Viruses 2020, 12(11), 1207; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12111207 - 23 Oct 2020
Cited by 2 | Viewed by 756
Abstract
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an alphavirus, transmitted by mosquitoes, which causes Chikungunya fever with symptoms of fever, rash, headache, and joint pain. In about 30%–40% of cases, the infection leads to polyarthritis and polyarthralgia. Presently, there are no treatment strategies or vaccine for [...] Read more.
Chikungunya virus (CHIKV) is an alphavirus, transmitted by mosquitoes, which causes Chikungunya fever with symptoms of fever, rash, headache, and joint pain. In about 30%–40% of cases, the infection leads to polyarthritis and polyarthralgia. Presently, there are no treatment strategies or vaccine for Chikungunya fever. Moreover, the mechanism of CHIKV induced bone pathology is not fully understood. The modulation of host machinery is known to be essential in establishing viral pathogenesis. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate major cellular functions by modulating gene expression. Fascinatingly, recent reports have indicated the role of miRNAs in regulating bone homeostasis and altered expression of miRNAs in bone-related pathological diseases. In this review, we summarize the altered expression of miRNAs during CHIKV pathogenesis and the possible role of miRNAs during bone homeostasis in the context of CHIKV infection. A holistic understanding of the different signaling pathways targeted by miRNAs during bone remodeling and during CHIKV-induced bone pathology may lead to identification of useful biomarkers or therapeutics. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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Open AccessReview
Purification Methods and the Presence of RNA in Virus Particles and Extracellular Vesicles
Viruses 2020, 12(9), 917; https://doi.org/10.3390/v12090917 - 21 Aug 2020
Viewed by 1428
Abstract
The fields of extracellular vesicles (EV) and virus infections are marred in a debate on whether a particular mRNA or non-coding RNA (i.e., miRNA) is packaged into a virus particle or copurifying EV and similarly, whether a particular mRNA or non-coding RNA is [...] Read more.
The fields of extracellular vesicles (EV) and virus infections are marred in a debate on whether a particular mRNA or non-coding RNA (i.e., miRNA) is packaged into a virus particle or copurifying EV and similarly, whether a particular mRNA or non-coding RNA is contained in meaningful numbers within an EV. Key in settling this debate, is whether the purification methods are adequate to separate virus particles, EV and contaminant soluble RNA and RNA:protein complexes. Differential centrifugation/ultracentrifugation and precipitating agents like polyethylene glycol are widely utilized for both EV and virus purifications. EV are known to co-sediment with virions and other particulates, such as defective interfering particles and protein aggregates. Here, we discuss how encased RNAs from a heterogeneous mixture of particles can be distinguished by different purification methods. This is particularly important for subsequent interpretation of whether the RNA associated phenotype is contributed solely by virus or EV particles or a mixture of both. We also discuss the discrepancy of miRNA abundance in EV from different input material. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue MicroRNAs and Other Small RNAs in Viral Infections)
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