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J Immunol. 2012 Jul 1;189(1):211-21. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1200609. Epub 2012 May 30.

Identification of resting and type I IFN-activated human NK cell miRNomes reveals microRNA-378 and microRNA-30e as negative regulators of NK cell cytotoxicity.

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National Key Laboratory of Medical Immunology and Institute of Immunology, Second Military Medical University, Shanghai 200433, China.


NK cells are important innate immune cells with potent cytotoxicity that can be activated by type I IFN from the host once infected. How NK cell cytotoxicity is activated by type I IFN and then tightly regulated remain to be fully elucidated. MicroRNAs (miRNAs, or miRs) are important regulators of innate immune response, but the full scale of miRNome in human NK cells remains to be determined. In this study, we reported an in-depth analysis of miRNomes in resting and IFN-α-activated human NK cells, found two abundant miRNAs, miR-378 and miR-30e, markedly decreased in activated NK cells by IFN-α, and further proved that miR-378 and miR-30e directly targeted granzyme B and perforin, respectively. Thus, IFN-α activation suppresses miR-378 and miR-30e expression to release cytolytic molecule mRNAs for their protein translation and then augments NK cell cytotoxicity. Importantly, the phenomena are also confirmed in human NK cells activated by other cytokines and even in the sorted CD16(+)CD56(dim)CD69(+) human NK cell subset. Finally, miR-378 and miR-30e were proved to be suppressors of human NK cell cytotoxicity. Taken together, our results reveal that downregulated miR-378 and miR-30e during NK cell activation are negative regulators of human NK cell cytotoxicity, providing a mechanistic explanation for regulation of NK cell function by miRNAs.

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