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Elife. 2019 Apr 23;8. pii: e44171. doi: 10.7554/eLife.44171.

MicroRNA-deficient mouse embryonic stem cells acquire a functional interferon response.

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Institute of Immunology and Infection Research, School of Biological Sciences, University of Edinburgh, Edinburgh, United Kingdom.


When mammalian cells detect a viral infection, they initiate a type I interferon (IFNs) response as part of their innate immune system. This antiviral mechanism is conserved in virtually all cell types, except for embryonic stem cells (ESCs) and oocytes which are intrinsically incapable of producing IFNs. Despite the importance of the IFN response to fight viral infections, the mechanisms regulating this pathway during pluripotency are still unknown. Here we show that, in the absence of miRNAs, ESCs acquire an active IFN response. Proteomic analysis identified MAVS, a central component of the IFN pathway, to be actively silenced by miRNAs and responsible for suppressing IFN expression in ESCs. Furthermore, we show that knocking out a single miRNA, miR-673, restores the antiviral response in ESCs through MAVS regulation. Our findings suggest that the interaction between miR-673 and MAVS acts as a switch to suppress the antiviral IFN during pluripotency and present genetic approaches to enhance their antiviral immunity.


antiviral; chromosomes; dicer; gene expression; interferon; mavs; miRNA; microprocessor; mouse; regenerative medicine; stem cells

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