Stabilization of hepatitis C virus RNA by an Ago2-miR-122 complex.
ABSTRACT: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that regulate eukaryotic gene expression by binding to regions of imperfect complementarity in mRNAs, typically in the 3' UTR, recruiting an Argonaute (Ago) protein complex that usually results in translational repression or destabilization of the target RNA. The translation and decay of mRNAs are closely linked, competing processes, and whether the miRNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) acts primarily to reduce translation or stability of the mRNA remains controversial. miR-122 is an abundant, liver-specific miRNA that is an unusual host factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV), an important cause of liver disease in humans. Prior studies show that it binds the 5' UTR of the messenger-sense HCV RNA genome, stimulating translation and promoting genome replication by an unknown mechanism. Here we show that miR-122 binds HCV RNA in association with Ago2 and that this slows decay of the viral genome in infected cells. The stabilizing action of miR-122 does not require the viral RNA to be translationally active nor engaged in replication, and can be functionally substituted by a nonmethylated 5' cap. Our data demonstrate that a RISC-like complex mediates the stability of HCV RNA and suggest that Ago2 and miR-122 act coordinately to protect the viral genome from 5' exonuclease activity of the host mRNA decay machinery. miR-122 thus acts in an unconventional fashion to stabilize HCV RNA and slow its decay, expanding the repertoire of mechanisms by which miRNAs modulate gene expression.
Project description:The liver-specific microRNA, miR-122, stabilizes hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA genomes by recruiting host argonaute 2 (AGO2) to the 5' end and preventing decay mediated by exonuclease Xrn1. However, HCV replication requires miR-122 in Xrn1-depleted cells, indicating additional functions. We show that miR-122 enhances HCV RNA levels by altering the fraction of HCV genomes available for RNA synthesis. Exogenous miR-122 increases viral RNA and protein levels in Xrn1-depleted cells, with enhanced RNA synthesis occurring before heightened protein synthesis. Inhibiting protein translation with puromycin blocks miR-122-mediated increases in RNA synthesis, but independently enhances RNA synthesis by releasing ribosomes from viral genomes. Additionally, miR-122 reduces the fraction of viral genomes engaged in protein translation. Depleting AGO2 or PCBP2, which binds HCV RNA in competition with miR-122 and promotes translation, eliminates miR-122 stimulation of RNA synthesis. Thus, by displacing PCBP2, miR-122 reduces HCV genomes engaged in translation while increasing the fraction available for RNA synthesis.
Project description:Translation of Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) RNA is directed by an internal ribosome entry site (IRES) in the 5'-untranslated region (5'-UTR). HCV translation is stimulated by the liver-specific microRNA-122 (miR-122) that binds to two binding sites between the stem-loops I and II near the 5'-end of the 5'-UTR. Here, we show that Argonaute (Ago) 2 protein binds to the HCV 5'-UTR in a miR-122-dependent manner, whereas the HCV 3'-UTR does not bind Ago2. miR-122 also recruits Ago1 to the HCV 5'-UTR. Only miRNA duplex precursors of the correct length stimulate HCV translation, indicating that the duplex miR-122 precursors are unwound by a complex that measures their length. Insertions in the 5'-UTR between the miR-122 binding sites and the IRES only slightly decrease translation stimulation by miR-122. In contrast, partially masking the miR-122 binding sites in a stem-loop structure impairs Ago2 binding and translation stimulation by miR-122. In an RNA decay assay, also miR-122-mediated RNA stability contributes to HCV translation stimulation. These results suggest that Ago2 protein is directly involved in loading miR-122 to the HCV RNA and mediating RNA stability and translation stimulation.
Project description:The liver-specific microRNA, miR-122, is an essential host factor for replication of hepatitis C virus (HCV), an important infectious cause of chronic liver disease and hepatocellular carcinoma. miR-122 stabilizes the positive-strand HCV RNA genome and promotes viral RNA synthesis by binding two closely spaced sites (S1 and S2) near the 5’ end of the genome in association with Ago2. Ago2 is essential for both host factor activities, but whether other host proteins are involved is unknown. Using a quantitative proteomics approach, we identified TNRC6A (GW182) and its paralogs (TNRC6B and TNRC6C), as functionally important components of the miR-122/Ago2 host factor complex binding HCV RNA. Depletion of any two TNRC6 proteins reduced HCV replication in Huh-7.5 cells,but did not reduce viral RNA stability or translational activity, but rather dampened miR-122 stimulation of viral RNA synthesis. However, TNRC6 depletion had no effect on replication of HCV in which S2 was mutated so that miR-122 binds only S1, whereas it significantly enhanced replication when S1 was mutated and only S2 bound by miR-122. Consistent with this, we found that TNRC6 proteins preferentially associate with the S1 site, and that the association of Ago2 with S2 is increased in TNRC6-depleted cells. Collectively, these data suggest a model in which TNRC6 proteins, which are known to interact with Ago2, preferentially direct the miR-122/Ago2 complex to S1 while restricting its association with S2, thereby fine tuning the spatial organization of miR-122/Ago2 complexes bound to the viral RNA.
Project description:The liver-specific microRNA, miR-122, is an essential host factor for replication of the hepatitis C virus (HCV). miR-122 stabilizes the positive-strand HCV RNA genome and promotes its synthesis by binding two sites (S1 and S2) near its 5' end in association with Ago2. Ago2 is essential for both host factor activities, but whether other host proteins are involved is unknown. Using an unbiased quantitative proteomics screen, we identified the TNRC6 protein paralogs, TNRC6B and TNRC6C, as functionally important but redundant components of the miR-122/Ago2 host factor complex. Doubly depleting TNRC6B and TNRC6C proteins reduced HCV replication in human hepatoma cells, dampening miR-122 stimulation of viral RNA synthesis without reducing the stability or translational activity of the viral RNA. TNRC6B/C were required for optimal miR-122 host factor activity only when S1 was able to bind miR-122, and restricted replication when S1 was mutated and only S2 bound by miR-122. TNRC6B/C preferentially associated with S1, and TNRC6B/C depletion enhanced Ago2 association at S2. Collectively, these data suggest a model in which TNRC6B/C regulate the assembly of miR-122/Ago complexes on HCV RNA, preferentially directing miR-122/Ago2 to S1 while restricting its association with S2, thereby fine-tuning the spatial organization of miR-122/Ago2 complexes on the viral genome.
Project description:Alcohol use and hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection synergize to cause liver damage, and microRNA-122 (miR-122) appears to play a key role in this process. Argonaute 2 (Ago2), a key component of the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC), has been shown to be important in modulating miR-122 function during HCV infection. However, GW182, a critical component of processing bodies (GW bodies) that is recruited by Ago2 to target messenger RNA (mRNA), has not been assessed in HCV infection. To characterize the role of GW182 in the pathogenesis of HCV infection, we determined its transcription and protein expression in an HCV J6/JFH1 culture system. Transcript and protein levels of GW182 as well as HCV RNA and protein expression increased with alcohol exposure. Specific silencing of mRNA expression by small interfering RNA against GW182 significantly decreased HCV RNA and protein expression. Overexpression of GW182 significantly increased HCV RNA and protein expression in HCV J6/JFH1 infected Huh7.5 cells. Furthermore, GW182 colocalized and coimmunoprecipitated with heat shock protein 90 (HSP90), which increased upon alcohol exposure with and without HCV infection and enhanced HCV gene expression. The use of an HSP90 inhibitor or knockdown of HSP90 decreased GW182 and miR-122 expression and significantly reduced HCV replication.Overall, our results suggest that GW182 protein that is linked to miR-122 biogenesis and HSP90, which has been shown to stabilize the RISC, are novel host proteins that regulate HCV infection during alcohol abuse.
Project description:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) replication is dependent on microRNA 122 (miR-122), a liver-specific microRNA that recruits Argonaute 2 to the 5' end of the viral genome, stabilizing it and slowing its decay both in cell-free reactions and in infected cells. Here we describe the RNA degradation pathways against which miR-122 provides protection. Transfected HCV RNA is degraded by both the 5' exonuclease Xrn1 and 3' exonuclease exosome complex, whereas replicating RNA within infected cells is degraded primarily by Xrn1 with no contribution from the exosome. Consistent with this, sequencing of the 5' and 3' ends of RNA degradation intermediates in infected cells confirmed that 5' decay is the primary pathway for HCV RNA degradation. Xrn1 knockdown enhances HCV replication, indicating that Xrn1 decay and the viral replicase compete to set RNA abundance within infected cells. Xrn1 knockdown and miR-122 supplementation have equal, redundant, and nonadditive effects on the rate of viral RNA decay, indicating that miR-122 protects HCV RNA from 5' decay. Nevertheless, Xrn1 knockdown does not rescue replication of a viral mutant defective in miR-122 binding, indicating that miR-122 has additional yet uncharacterized function(s) in the viral life cycle.
Project description:Hepatitis C virus (HCV) is a positive strand RNA virus that propagates primarily in the liver. We show here that the liver-specific microRNA-122 (miR-122), a member of a class of small cellular RNAs that mediate post-transcriptional gene regulation usually by repressing the translation of mRNAs through interaction with their 3'-untranslated regions (UTRs), stimulates the translation of HCV. Sequestration of miR-122 in liver cell lines strongly reduces HCV translation, whereas addition of miR-122 stimulates HCV translation in liver cell lines as well as in the non-liver HeLa cells and in rabbit reticulocyte lysate. The stimulation is conferred by direct interaction of miR-122 with two target sites in the 5'-UTR of the HCV genome. With a replication-defective NS5B polymerase mutant genome, we show that the translation stimulation is independent of viral RNA synthesis. miR-122 stimulates HCV translation by enhancing the association of ribosomes with the viral RNA at an early initiation stage. In conclusion, the liver-specific miR-122 may contribute to HCV liver tropism at the level of translation.
Project description:In addition to suppressing cellular gene expression, certain miRNAs potently facilitate replication of specific positive-strand RNA viruses. miR-122, a pro-viral hepatitis C virus (HCV) host factor, binds and recruits Ago2 to tandem sites (S1 and S2) near the 5΄ end of the HCV genome, stabilizing it and promoting its synthesis. HCV target site selection follows canonical miRNA rules, but how non-templated 3΄ miR-122 modifications impact this unconventional miRNA action is unknown. High-throughput sequencing revealed that a 22 nt miRNA with 3΄G ('22-3΄G') comprised <63% of total miR-122 in human liver, whereas other variants (23-3΄A, 23-3΄U, 21-3΄U) represented 11-17%. All loaded equivalently into Ago2, and when tested individually functioned comparably in suppressing gene expression. In contrast, 23-3΄A and 23-3΄U were more active than 22-3΄G in stabilizing HCV RNA and promoting its replication, whereas 21-3΄U was almost completely inactive. This lack of 21-3΄U HCV host factor activity correlated with reduced recruitment of Ago2 to the HCV S1 site. Additional experiments demonstrated strong preference for guanosine at nt 22 of miR-122. Our findings reveal the importance of non-templated 3΄ miR-122 modifications to its HCV host factor activity, and identify unexpected differences in miRNA requirements for host gene suppression versus RNA virus replication.
Project description:The abundant, liver-specific microRNA miR-122 forms extensive base-pairing interactions with the 5' noncoding region of the hepatitis C virus (HCV) RNA genome, protecting the viral RNA from degradation. We discovered that the 5'-3' exoribonuclease Xrn2, which plays a crucial role in the transcription termination of RNA polymerase II, modulates HCV RNA abundance in the cytoplasm, but is counteracted by miR-122-mediated protection. Specifically, Xrn2 depletion results in increased accumulation of viral RNA, while Xrn2 overexpression diminishes viral RNA abundance. Depletion of Xrn2 did not alter translation or replication rates of HCV RNA, but affected viral RNA stability. Importantly, during sequestration of miR-122, Xrn2 depletion restored HCV RNA abundance, arguing that Xrn2 depletion eliminates the miR-122 requirement for viral RNA stability. Thus, Xrn2 has a cytoplasmic, antiviral function against HCV that is counteracted by HCV's subversion of miR-122 to form a protective oligomeric complex at the 5' end of the viral genome.
Project description:Annealing of the liver-specific microRNA, miR-122, to the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) 5' UTR is required for efficient virus replication. By using siRNAs to pressure escape mutations, 30 replication-competent HCV genomes having nucleotide changes in the conserved 5' untranslated region (UTR) were identified. In silico analysis predicted that miR-122 annealing induces canonical HCV genomic 5' UTR RNA folding, and mutant 5' UTR sequences that promoted miR-122-independent HCV replication favored the formation of the canonical RNA structure, even in the absence of miR-122. Additionally, some mutant viruses adapted to use the siRNA as a miR-122-mimic. We further demonstrate that small RNAs that anneal with perfect complementarity to the 5' UTR stabilize and promote HCV genome accumulation. Thus, HCV genome stabilization and life-cycle promotion does not require the specific annealing pattern demonstrated for miR-122 nor 5' end annealing or 3' overhanging nucleotides. Replication promotion by perfect-match siRNAs was observed in Ago2 knockout cells revealing that other Ago isoforms can support HCV replication. At last, we present a model for miR-122 promotion of the HCV life cycle in which miRNA annealing to the 5' UTR, in conjunction with any Ago isoform, modifies the 5' UTR structure to stabilize the viral genome and promote HCV RNA accumulation.