The regulation of host-pathogen interactions during Mycobacterium tuberculosis (Mtb) infection remains unresolved. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of the immune system, and so we used a systems biology approach to construct an miRNA regulatory network activated in macrophages during Mtb infection. Our network comprises 77 putative miRNAs that are associated with temporal gene expression signatures in macrophages early after Mtb infection. In this study, we demonstrate a dual role for one of these regulators, miR-155. On the one hand, miR-155 maintains the survival of Mtb-infected macrophages, thereby providing a niche favoring bacterial replication; on the other hand, miR-155 promotes the survival and function of Mtb-specific T cells, enabling an effective adaptive immune response. MiR-155-induced cell survival is mediated through the SH2 domain-containing inositol 5-phosphatase 1 (SHIP1)/protein kinase B (Akt) pathway. Thus, dual regulation of the same cell survival pathway in innate and adaptive immune cells leads to vastly different outcomes with respect to bacterial containment.
Keywords: Mycobacterium tuberculosis; T cell; macrophage; miR-155; microRNA.