Link to Pubmed [PMID] – 33633774
Link to DOI – 62700710.3389/fgene.2020.627007
Front Genet 2020 ; 11(): 627007
Ubiquitin-specific peptidase 18 (USP18) acts as gatekeeper of type I interferon (IFN) responses by binding to the IFN receptor subunit IFNAR2 and preventing activation of the downstream JAK/STAT pathway. In any given cell type, the level of USP18 is a key determinant of the output of IFN-stimulated transcripts. How the baseline level of USP18 is finely tuned in different cell types remains ill defined. Here, we identified microRNAs (miRNAs) that efficiently target USP18 through binding to the 3’untranslated region (3’UTR). Among these, three miRNAs are particularly enriched in circulating monocytes which exhibit low baseline USP18. Intriguingly, the USP18 3’UTR sequence is duplicated in human and chimpanzee genomes. In humans, four USP18 3’UTR copies were previously found to be embedded in long intergenic non-coding (linc) RNA genes residing in chr22q11.21 and known as FAM247A-D. Here, we further characterized their sequence and measured their expression profile in human tissues. Importantly, we describe an additional lincRNA bearing USP18 3’UTR (here linc-UR-B1) that is expressed only in testis. RNA-seq data analyses from testicular cell subsets revealed a positive correlation between linc-UR-B1 and USP18 expression in spermatocytes and spermatids. Overall, our findings uncover a set of miRNAs and lincRNAs, which may be part of a network evolved to fine-tune baseline USP18, particularly in cell types where IFN responsiveness needs to be tightly controlled.