10.1371/journal.pone.0036157

Functionally Orthologous Viral and Cellular MicroRNAs Studied by a Novel Dual-Fluorescent Reporter System

Abstract

Recent research raised the possibility that some viral microRNAs (miRNAs) may function as orthologs of cellular miRNAs. In the present work, to study the functional orthologous relationships of viral and cellular miRNAs, we first constructed a dualfluorescent protein reporter vector system for the easy determination of miRNA function. By expressing the miRNAs and the indicator and internal control fluorescent proteins individually from a single vector, this simple reporter system can be used for miRNA functional assays that include visualizing miRNA activity in live cells. Sequence alignments indicated that the simian virus 40 (SV40) encoded miRNA sv40-mir-S1-5p contains a seed region identical to that of the human miRNA hsamiR423-5p. Using the new reporter system, it was found that sv40-mir-S1-5p and hsa-miR423-5p downregulate the expression of common artificial target mRNAs and some predicted biological targets of hsa-miR423-5p, demonstrating that they are functional orthologs. The human immunodeficiency virus 1 (HIV-1) encoded hiv1-miR-N367 also contains a seed sequence identical to that of the human miRNA hsa-miR192. Functional assays showed that hiv1-miR-N367 and hsa-miR192 could downregulate common artificial and predicted biological targets, suggesting that these miRNAs may also act as functional orthologs. Thus, this study presents a simple and universal system for testing miRNA function and identifies two new pairs of functional orthologs, sv40-mir-S1-5p and hsa-miR423-5p as well as hiv-1-miR-N367 and hsa-miR192. These findings also expand upon our current knowledge of functional homology and imply that a more general phenomenon o

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