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J Mol Cell Biol. 2019 Dec 21. pii: mjz104. doi: 10.1093/jmcb/mjz104. [Epub ahead of print]

An HBV-encoded miRNA activates innate immunity to restrict HBV replication.

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Tianjin Life Science Research Center, Tianjin Key Laboratory of Inflammation Biology, Collaborative Innovation Center of Tianjin for Medical Epigenetics, Department of Pathogen Biology, School of Basic Medical Sciences, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China.
Department of Laboratory Medicine, General Hospital, Tianjin Medical University, Tianjin, China.


We previously identified that the hepatitis B virus (HBV) encodes a microRNA (HBV-miR-3) that restrains HBV replication by targeting the HBV transcript. However, whether HBV-miR-3 affects host innate immunity to modulate HBV replication remains unclear. Here, we examined the vital functions of HBV-miR-3 in the innate immune response after HBV infection. We found that HBV-miR-3 expression gradually increased in a dose- and time-dependent manner in HBV-infected HepG2-NTCP cells. HBV-miR-3 activated the JAK/STAT signaling pathway by downregulating SOCS5 in hepatocytes, thereby enhancing the IFN-induced anti-HBV effect. In addition, HBV-miR-3 in exosomes facilitated the M1 polarization of macrophages. Furthermore, exosomes containing HBV-miR-3 enhanced the secretion of IL-6 via inhibiting the SOCS5-mediated ubiquitination of EGFR. In short, these results demonstrate that HBV-miR-3 activates the innate immune response to restrain HBV replication by multiple pathways, which may suppress HBV-induced acute liver cell injury and affect the progression of persistent HBV infection.


HBV-miR-3; IFN; IL-6; M1 polarization; hepatitis B virus


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