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J Biol Chem. 2009 Jun 12;284(24):16334-42. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.011601. Epub 2009 Apr 22.

MicroRNA-155 modulates the pathogen binding ability of dendritic cells (DCs) by down-regulation of DC-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3 grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN).

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Division of Infection, Inflammation and Repair, University of Southampton School of Medicine, and Southampton General Hospital, Southampton, UK.


MicroRNA-155 (miR-155) has been involved in the response to inflammation in macrophages and lymphocytes. Here we show how miR-155 participates in the maturation of human dendritic cells (DC) and modulates pathogen binding by down-regulating DC-specific intercellular adhesion molecule-3 grabbing non-integrin (DC-SIGN), after directly targeting the transcription factor PU.1. During the maturation of DCs, miR-155 increases up to 130-fold, whereas PU.1 protein levels decrease accordingly. We establish that human PU.1 is a direct target for miR-155 and localize the target sequence for miR-155 in the 3'-untranslated region of PU.1. Also, overexpression of miR-155 in the THP1 monocytic cell line decreases PU.1 protein levels and DC-SIGN at both the mRNA and protein levels. We prove a link between the down-regulation of PU.1 and reduced transcriptional activity of the DC-SIGN promoter, which is likely to be the basis for its reduced mRNA expression, after miR-155 overexpression. Finally, we show that, by reducing DC-SIGN in the cellular membrane, miR-155 is involved in regulating pathogen binding as dendritic cells exhibited the lower binding capacity for fungi and HIV protein gp-120 when the levels of miR-155 were higher. Thus, our results suggest a mechanism by which miR-155 regulates proteins involved in the cellular immune response against pathogens that could have clinical implications in the way pathogens enter the human organism.

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