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J Biol Chem. 2007 Sep 28;282(39):28929-38. Epub 2007 Jul 27.

A cellular micro-RNA, let-7i, regulates Toll-like receptor 4 expression and contributes to cholangiocyte immune responses against Cryptosporidium parvum infection.

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Miles and Shirley Fiterman Center for Digestive Diseases, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Rochester, Minnesota 55905, USA.


Toll-like receptors (TLRs) are important pathogen recognition molecules and are key to epithelial immune responses to microbial infection. However, the molecular mechanisms that regulate TLR expression in epithelia are obscure. Micro-RNAs play important roles in a wide range of biological events through post-transcriptional suppression of target mRNAs. Here we report that human biliary epithelial cells (cholangiocytes) express let-7 family members, micro-RNAs with complementarity to TLR4 mRNA. We found that let-7 regulates TLR4 expression via post-transcriptional suppression in cultured human cholangiocytes. Infection of cultured human cholangiocytes with Cryptosporidium parvum, a parasite that causes intestinal and biliary disease, results in decreased expression of primary let-7i and mature let-7 in a MyD88/NF-kappaB-dependent manner. The decreased let-7 expression is associated with C. parvum-induced up-regulation of TLR4 in infected cells. Moreover, experimentally induced suppression or forced expression of let-7i causes reciprocal alterations in C. parvum-induced TLR4 protein expression, and consequently, infection dynamics of C. parvum in vitro. These results indicate that let-7i regulates TLR4 expression in cholangiocytes and contributes to epithelial immune responses against C. parvum infection. Furthermore, the data raise the possibility that micro-RNA-mediated post-transcriptional pathways may be critical to host-cell regulatory responses to microbial infection in general.

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