Deng W, Zhang X, Ma Z et al.
a Institute of Virology, University Hospital Essen, University of Duisburg-Essen , Essen , Germany.
RNA biology. Mar 2017.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are able to modulate hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication and play an important role in the pathogenesis of HBV infection. Recently, we have identified that serum miR-125b-5p level correlated with HBV DNA levels and liver necroinflammation. In the present study, we addressed how miR-125b-5p regulated HBV replication at the different steps, inclduing viral transcription, assembly, and virion production and investigated the underlying mechanisms. We found that miR-125b-5p overexpression increased HBV replication without altering HBV transcription. This is the first demonstration of post-transcriptional miRNA regulation of HBV replication. In contrast, transfection of miR-125b-5p inhibitor resulted in downregulation of HBV replication in hepatoma cells. Further, miR-125b-5p inhibited the phosphorylation of retinoblastoma protein and blocked cell cycle progression at the G1/S phase in hepatoma cell lines. Our results indicate that certain miRNAs are able to arrest the cell cycle at G1 phase and may increase HBV replication. RNA sequencing revealed a number of liver-specific metabolic pathways regulated by miR-125b-5p, which was also found to suppress LIN28B and induce let-7 family members. Additional data demonstrated that miR-125b-5p targeted the LIN28B/let-7 axis to stimulate HBV replication at a post-transcriptional step.