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Host-bacteria relationships, Bacterial genetics, Leishmania, Coxiella burnetii, Molecular parasitology


MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small non-coding RNAs, are critical to gene regulation in eukaryotes. They are involved in modulating a variety of physiological processes, including the host response to intracellular infections. Little is known about miRNA functions during infection by Coxiella burnetii, the causative agent of human Q fever. This bacterial pathogen establishes a large replicative vacuole within macrophages by manipulating host processes such as apoptosis and autophagy. We investigated miRNA expression in C. burnetii-infected macrophages and identified several miRNAs that were down- or up-regulated during infection. We further explored the functions of miR-143-3p, an miRNA whose expression is down-regulated in macrophages infected with C. burnetii, and show that increasing the abundance of this miRNA in human cells results in increased apoptosis and reduced autophagy – conditions that are unfavorable to C. burnetii intracellular growth. In sum, this study demonstrates that C. burnetii infection elicits a robust miRNA-based host response, and because miR-143-3p promotes apoptosis and inhibits autophagy, down-regulation of miR-143-3p expression during C. burnetii infection likely benefits the pathogen.


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