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J Virol. 2018 Jul 31;92(16). pii: e02131-17. doi: 10.1128/JVI.02131-17. Print 2018 Aug 15.

The Murine Polyomavirus MicroRNA Locus Is Required To Promote Viruria during the Acute Phase of Infection.

Author information

1
The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, Center for Infectious Disease and Department of Molecular Biosciences, Austin, Texas, USA.
2
The University of Texas at Austin, Center for Systems and Synthetic Biology, Center for Infectious Disease and Department of Molecular Biosciences, Austin, Texas, USA Chris_sullivan@austin.utexas.edu.

Abstract

Polyomaviruses (PyVs) can cause serious disease in immunosuppressed hosts. Several pathogenic PyVs encode microRNAs (miRNAs), small RNAs that regulate gene expression via RNA silencing. Despite recent advances in understanding the activities of PyV miRNAs, the biological functions of PyV miRNAs during in vivo infections are mostly unknown. The studies presented here used murine polyomavirus (MuPyV) as a model to assess the roles of the PyV miRNAs in a natural host. This analysis revealed that a MuPyV mutant that is unable to express miRNAs has enhanced viral DNA loads in select tissues at late times after infection. This is consistent with the PyV miRNAs functioning to reduce viral replication during the persistent phase of infection in a natural host. Additionally, the MuPyV miRNA locus promotes viruria during the acute phase of infection as evidenced by a defect in shedding during infection with the miRNA mutant virus. The viruria defect of the miRNA mutant virus could be rescued by infecting Rag2-/- mice. These findings implicate the miRNA locus as functioning in both the persistent and acute phases of infection and suggest a role for MuPyV miRNA in evading the adaptive immune response.IMPORTANCE MicroRNAs are expressed by diverse viruses, but for only a few is there any understanding of their in vivo function. PyVs can cause serious disease in immunocompromised hosts. Therefore, increased knowledge of how these viruses interact with the immune response is of clinical relevance. Here we show a novel activity for a viral miRNA locus in promoting virus shedding. This work indicates that in addition to any role for the PyV miRNA locus in long-term persistence, it also has biological activity during the acute phase. As this mutant phenotype is alleviated by infection of mice lacking an adaptive immune response, our work also connects the in vivo activity of the PyV miRNA locus to the immune response. Given that PyV-associated disease is associated with alterations in the immune response, our findings help to better understand how the balance between PyVs and the immune response becomes altered in pathogenic states.

KEYWORDS:

miRNA; polyomavirus; viral persistence; viral shedding; viruria

PMID:
29875236
PMCID:
PMC6069185
DOI:
10.1128/JVI.02131-17
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
Free PMC Article

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