Open Access Research article

An integrated approach identifies IFN-regulated microRNAs and targeted mRNAs modulated by different HCV replicon clones

Roberto Bruni1, Cinzia Marcantonio1, Elena Tritarelli1, Paola Tataseo2, Emilia Stellacci13, Angela Costantino1, Umbertina Villano1, Angela Battistini1 and Anna Rita Ciccaglione1*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Infectious, Parasitic and Immunomediated Diseases, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

2 ASL Avezzano-Sulmona, Transfusional Medicine and Molecular Biology Laboratory, Sulmona, Italy

3 Department of Hematology, Oncology and MolecularMedicine, Istituto Superiore di Sanità, Rome, Italy

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BMC Genomics 2011, 12:485  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-12-485

Published: 4 October 2011

Abstract

Background

Infections with hepatitis C virus (HCV) progress to chronic phase in 80% of patients. To date, the effect produced by HCV on the expression of microRNAs (miRs) involved in the interferon-β (IFN-β) antiviral pathway has not been explored in details. Thus, we compared the expression profile of 24 selected miRs in IFN-β-treated Huh-7 cells and in three different clones of Huh-7 cells carrying a self-replicating HCV RNA which express all viral proteins (HCV replicon system).

Methods

The expression profile of 24 selected miRs in IFN-β-treated Huh-7 cells and in HCV replicon 21-5 clone with respect to Huh-7 parental cells was analysed by real-time PCR. To exclude clone specific variations, the level of 16 out of 24 miRs, found to be modulated in 21-5 clone, was evaluated in two other HCV replicon clones, 22-6 and 21-7. Prediction of target genes of 3 miRs, confirmed in all HCV clones, was performed by means of miRGator program. The gene dataset obtained from microarray analysis of HCV clones was farther used to validate target prediction.

Results

The expression profile revealed that 16 out of 24 miRs were modulated in HCV replicon clone 21-5. Analysis in HCV replicon clones 22-6 and 21-7 indicated that 3 out of 16 miRs, (miR-128a, miR-196a and miR-142-3p) were modulated in a concerted fashion in all three HCV clones. Microarray analysis revealed that 37 out of 1981 genes, predicted targets of the 3 miRs, showed an inverse expression relationship with the corresponding miR in HCV clones, as expected for true targets. Classification of the 37 genes by Panther System indicated that the dataset contains genes involved in biological processes that sustain HCV replication and/or in pathways potentially implicated in the control of antiviral response by HCV infection.

Conclusions

The present findings reveal that 3 IFN-β-regulated miRs and 37 genes, which are likely their functional targets, were commonly modulated by HCV in three replicon clones. The future use of miR inhibitors or mimics and/or siRNAs might be useful for the development of diagnostic and therapeutic strategies aimed at the recovering of protective innate responses in HCV infections.