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PLoS One. 2009 Dec 30;4(12):e8508. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0008508.

MiR-155 induction by F. novicida but not the virulent F. tularensis results in SHIP down-regulation and enhanced pro-inflammatory cytokine response.

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Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology Program, The Ohio State University, Columbus, Ohio, United States of America.


The intracellular gram-negative bacterium Francisella tularensis causes the disease tularemia and is known for its ability to subvert host immune responses. Previous work from our laboratory identified the PI3K/Akt pathway and SHIP as critical modulators of host resistance to Francisella. Here, we show that SHIP expression is strongly down-regulated in monocytes and macrophages following infection with F. tularensis novicida (F.n.). To account for this negative regulation we explored the possibility that microRNAs (miRs) that target SHIP may be induced during infection. There is one miR that is predicted to target SHIP, miR-155. We tested for induction and found that F.n. induced miR-155 both in primary monocytes/macrophages and in vivo. Using luciferase reporter assays we confirmed that miR-155 led to down-regulation of SHIP, showing that it specifically targets the SHIP 3'UTR. Further experiments showed that miR-155 and BIC, the gene that encodes miR-155, were induced as early as four hours post-infection in primary human monocytes. This expression was dependent on TLR2/MyD88 and did not require inflammasome activation. Importantly, miR-155 positively regulated pro-inflammatory cytokine release in human monocytes infected with Francisella. In sharp contrast, we found that the highly virulent type A SCHU S4 strain of Francisella tularensis (F.t.) led to a significantly lower miR-155 response than the less virulent F.n. Hence, F.n. induces miR-155 expression and leads to down-regulation of SHIP, resulting in enhanced pro-inflammatory responses. However, impaired miR-155 induction by SCHU S4 may help explain the lack of both SHIP down-regulation and pro-inflammatory response and may account for the virulence of Type A Francisella.

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