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BMC Infect Dis. 2016 Jan 27;16:29. doi: 10.1186/s12879-016-1364-y.

Complex interaction between dengue virus replication and expression of miRNA-133a.

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Grupo Inmunovirología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia UdeA, Calle 70 No. 52-21, Medellin, Colombia.
Department of Medical Microbiology, University Medical Center Groningen, University of Groningen, Groningen, The Netherlands.
St Laurent Institute, 317 New Boston St, Woburn, MA, 01801, USA.
Grupo Inmunovirología, Facultad de Medicina, Universidad de Antioquia UdeA, Calle 70 No. 52-21, Medellin, Colombia.



Dengue virus (DENV) is the most common vector-borne viral infection worldwide with approximately 390 million cases and 25,000 reported deaths each year. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules responsible for the regulation of gene expression by repressing mRNA translation or inducing mRNA degradation. Although miRNAs possess antiviral activity against many mammalian-infecting viruses, their involvement in DENV replication is poorly understood.


Here, we explored the relationship between DENV and cellular microRNAs using bioinformatics tools. We overexpressed miRNA-133a in Vero cells to test its role in DENV replication and analyzed its expression using RT-qPCR. Furthermore, the expression of polypyrimidine tract binding protein (PTB), a protein involved in DENV replication, was analyzed by western blot. In addition, we profiled miRNA-133a expression in Vero cells challenged with DENV-2, using Taqman miRNA.


Bioinformatic analysis revealed that the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of the DENV genome of all four DENV serotypes is targeted by several cellular miRNAs, including miRNA-133a. We found that overexpression of synthetic miRNA-133a suppressed DENV replication. Additionally, we observed that PTB transcription , a miRNA-133a target, is down-regulated during DENV infection. Based in our results we propose that 3'UTR of DENV down-regulates endogenous expression of miRNA-133a in Vero cells during the first hours of infection.


miRNA-133a regulates DENV replication possibly through the modulation of a host factor such as PTB. Further investigations are needed to verify whether miRNA-133a has an anti-DENV effect in vivo.

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