Journal Article
Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
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MicroRNA-21 targets the vitamin D-dependent antimicrobial pathway in leprosy.

Nature Medicine 2012 January 30
Leprosy provides a model to investigate mechanisms of immune regulation in humans, given that the disease forms a spectrum of clinical presentations that correlate with host immune responses. Here we identified 13 miRNAs that were differentially expressed in the lesions of subjects with progressive lepromatous (L-lep) versus the self-limited tuberculoid (T-lep) disease. Bioinformatic analysis revealed a significant enrichment of L-lep-specific miRNAs that preferentially target key immune genes downregulated in L-lep versus T-lep lesions. The most differentially expressed miRNA in L-lep lesions, hsa-mir-21, was upregulated in Mycobacterium leprae-infected monocytes. By directly downregulating Toll-like receptor 2/1 heterodimer (TLR2/1)-induced CYP27B1 and IL1B expression as well as indirectly upregulating interleukin-10 (IL-10), hsa-mir-21 inhibited expression of the genes encoding two vitamin D-dependent antimicrobial peptides, CAMP and DEFB4A. Conversely, knockdown of hsa-mir-21 in M. leprae-infected monocytes enhanced expression of CAMP and DEFB4A and restored TLR2/1-mediated antimicrobial activity against M. leprae. Therefore, the ability of M. leprae to upregulate hsa-mir-21 targets multiple genes associated with the immunologically localized disease form, providing an effective mechanism to escape from the vitamin D-dependent antimicrobial pathway.

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