Int. J. Dev. Biol. 58: 281 - 289 (2014)
doi: 10.1387/ijdb.130349ys
© UPV/EHU Press

The role of trophoblastic microRNAs in placental viral infection

Jean-Francois Mouillet1, Yingshi Ouyang1, Avraham Bayer1,2, Carolyn B. Coyne2,1, and Yoel Sadovsky1,2

1Magee-Womens Research Institute, Department of Obstetrics, Gynecology and Reproductive Sciences and 2Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, University of Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, USA.

ABSTRACT During the past decade, various types of small non-coding RNAs were found to be expressed in all kingdoms and phyla of life. Intense research efforts have begun to shed light on their biological functions, although much remains to be determined in order to fully characterize their scope of biological action. Typically, small RNAs provide sequence specificity to a protein complex that is driven to silence a long target RNA. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNAs that are coded in the genome of most eukaryotes, and contribute to the cellular identity by regulating cell-specific gene networks by translational repression or degradation of mRNA. These effects commonly fine-tune gene expression associated with developmental or environmental cues. Different cell types can be characterized by their distinctive cellular miRNA landscape. The human placenta expresses a unique set of miRNAs, a high proportion of which is derived from a large cluster located on chromosome 19, (termed chromosome 19 miRNA cluster, or C19MC). Interestingly, a fraction of these placenta-enriched miRNAs are released to the extracellular environment through exosomes that were recently found to induce an antiviral immunity. In this review, we explore relevant placental viral infections and discuss the antiviral role of exosome-packaged placental C19MC miRNAs in this context.

Keywords:

trophoblast, virus, C19MC, trophomiR, exosomes

*Corresponding author e-mail: ysadovsky@mwri.magee.edu