MicroRNA-548 down-regulates host antiviral response via direct targeting of IFN-λ1

Yongkui Li, Jiajia Xie, Xiupeng Xu, Jun Wang, Fang Ao, Yushun Wan, Ying Zhu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

90 Scopus citations


Interferon (IFN)-mediated pathways are a crucial part of the cellular response against viral infection. Type III IFNs, which include IFN-λ1, 2 and 3, mediate antiviral responses similar to Type I IFNs via a distinct receptor complex. IFN-λ1 is more effective than the other two members. Transcription of IFN-λ1 requires activation of IRF3/7 and nuclear factor-kappa B (NF-κB), similar to the transcriptional mechanism of Type I IFNs. Using reporter assays, we discovered that viral infection induced both IFN-λ1 promoter activity and that of the 3′-untranslated region (UTR), indicating that IFN-λ1 expression is also regulated at the post-transcriptional level. After analysis with microRNA (miRNA) prediction programs and 3′UTR targeting site assays, the miRNA-548 family, including miR-548b-5p, miR-548c-5p, miR-548i, miR-548j, and miR-548n, was identified to target the 3′UTR of IFN-λ1. Further study demonstrated that miRNA-548 mimics down-regulated the expression of IFN-λ1. In contrast, their inhibitors, the complementary RNAs, enhanced the expression of IFN-λ1 and IFN-stimulated genes. Furthermore, miRNA-548 mimics promoted infection by enterovirus-71 (EV71) and vesicular stomatitis virus (VSV), whereas their inhibitors significantly suppressed the replication of EV71 and VSV. Endogenous miRNA-548 levels were suppressed during viral infection. In conclusion, our results suggest that miRNA-548 regulates host antiviral response via direct targeting of IFN-λ1, which may offer a potential candidate for antiviral therapy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)130-141
Number of pages12
JournalProtein and Cell
Issue number2
StatePublished - Feb 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • antiviral response
  • interferon-λ1
  • microRNA-548
  • viral infection


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