Author(s): Ouellet DL, Plante I, Landry P, Barat C, Janelle ME,
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Abstract The interaction between human immunodeficiency virus type 1 (HIV-1) and RNA silencing pathways is complex and multifaceted. Essential for efficient viral transcription and supporting Tat-mediated transactivation of viral gene expression, the trans-activation responsive (TAR) element is a structured RNA located at the 5' end of all transcripts derived from HIV-1. Here, we report that this element is a source of microRNAs (miRNAs) in cultured HIV-1-infected cell lines and in HIV-1-infected human CD4+ T lymphocytes. Using primer extension and ribonuclease (RNase) protection assays, we delineated both strands of the TAR miRNA duplex deriving from a model HIV-1 transcript, namely miR-TAR-5p and miR-TAR-3p. In vitro RNase assays indicate that the lack of a free 3' extremity at the base of TAR may contribute to its low processing reactivity in vivo. Both miR-TAR-5p and miR-TAR-3p down-regulated TAR miRNA sensor activity in a process that required an integral miRNA-guided RNA silencing machinery. miR-TAR-3p exerted superior gene downregulatory effects, probably due to its preferential release from HIV-1 TAR RNA by the RNase III Dicer. Our study suggests that the TAR element of HIV-1 transcripts releases functionally competent miRNAs upon asymmetrical processing by Dicer, thereby providing novel insights into viral miRNA biogenesis.
This article was published in Nucleic Acids Res
and referenced in Virology & Mycology