MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding nucleotides that play major roles in the response of host immune cells. Autophagy plays a key role in activating the antimicrobial host defense against Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tuberculosis). Whether miRNAs specifically influence the activation of macrophage autophagy during M. tuberculosis infection is largely unknown. In the present study, we demonstrate that Mycobacterium bovis Bacillus Calmette-Guérin (BCG) infection of macrophages leads to increased expression of miR-144-3p, which targets autophagy-related gene 4a (ATG4a), to inhibit autophagy activation and antimicrobial responses to BCG. Overexpression of miR-144-3p significantly decreased both mRNA and protein levels of ATG4a, inhibited the formation of autophagosomes in RAW264.7 cells and increased intracellular survival of BCG. However, transfection with miR-144-3p inhibitor led to an increase in ATG4a levels, accelerated the autophagic response in macrophages, and decreased BCG survival in macrophages. The experimental results of this study reveal a novel role of miR-144-3p in inhibiting autophagy activation by targeting ATG4a and enhancing BCG infection, and provide potential targets for developing improved treatment.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)