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Cell Microbiol. 2012 Sep;14(9):1455-73. doi: 10.1111/j.1462-5822.2012.01811.x. Epub 2012 May 23.

The profile of snoRNA-derived microRNAs that regulate expression of variant surface proteins in Giardia lamblia.

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  • 1Department of Pharmaceutical Chemistry, University of California, San Francisco, CA 94158-2280, USA.


In the current investigation, we analysed all the known small nucleolar RNAs (snoRNAs) in the deeply branching protozoan parasite Giardia lamblia for potential microRNAs (miRNAs) that might be derived from them. Two putative miRNAs have since been identified by Northern blot, primer extension, 3' RACE and co-immunoprecipitation with Giardia Argonaute (GlAgo), and designated miR6 and miR10. Giardia Dicer (GlDcr) is capable of processing the snoRNAs into the corresponding miRNAs in vitro. Potential miR6 and miR10 binding sites in Giardia genome were predicted bio-informatically. A miR6 binding site was found at the 3' untranslated regions (UTR) of 44 variant surface protein (vsp) genes, whereas a miR10 binding site was identified at the 3' end of 159 vsp open-reading frames. Thirty-three of these vsp genes turned out to contain binding sites for both miR6 and miR10. A reporter mRNA tagged with the 3' end of vsp1267, which contains the target sites for both miRNAs, was translationally repressed by both miRNAs in Giardia. Episomal expression of an N-terminal c-myc tagged VSP1267 was found significantly repressed by introducing either miR6 or miR10 into the cells and the repressive effects were additive. When the 2'-O-methyl antisense oligos (ASOs) of either miR6 or miR10 was introduced, however, there was an enhancement of tagged VSP1267 expression suggesting an inhibition of the repressive effects of endogenous miR6 or miR10 by the ASOs. Of the total 220 vsp genes in Giardia, we have now found 178 of them carrying putative binding sites for all the miRNAs that have been currently identified, suggesting that miRNAs are likely the regulators of VSP expression in Giardia.

© 2012 Blackwell Publishing Ltd.

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