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  • Director of Center
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Scientific Fields
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Published in EMBO Reports - 16 Dec 2021

Meetali Singh, Maxime Chazal, Piergiuseppe Quarato, Loan Bourdon, Christophe Malabat, Thomas Vallet, Marco Vignuzzi, Sylvie van der Werf, Sylvie Behillil, Flora Donati, Nathalie Sauvonnet, Giulia Nigro, Maryline Bourgine, Nolwenn Jouvenet, and Germano Cecere

Link to DOI – https://doi.org/10.15252/embr.202154341

EMBO Reports (2021)e54341

SARS-CoV-2 infection results in impaired interferon response in patients with severe COVID-19. However, how SARS-CoV-2 interferes with host immune responses is incompletely understood. Here, we sequence small RNAs from SARS-CoV-2-infected human cells and identify a microRNA (miRNA) derived from a recently evolved region of the viral genome. We show that the virus-derived miRNA produces two miRNA isoforms in infected cells by the enzyme Dicer, which are loaded into Argonaute proteins. Moreover, the predominant miRNA isoform targets the 3′UTR of interferon-stimulated genes and represses their expression in a miRNA-like fashion. Finally, the two viral miRNA isoforms were detected in nasopharyngeal swabs from COVID-19 patients. We propose that SARS-CoV-2 can potentially employ a virus-derived miRNA to hijack the host miRNA machinery, which could help to evade the interferon-mediated immune response.

https://www.embopress.org/doi/full/10.15252/embr.202154341