HSV-1 latency-associated transcript miR-H3 and miR-H4 target STXBP1 and GABBR2 genes

J Neurovirol. 2023 Sep 5. doi: 10.1007/s13365-023-01174-8. Online ahead of print.


During latent infection, the HSV-1 virus generates only a single transcript, LAT, which encodes six miRNAs. The GABAergic pathway signaling system is an essential cell signaling pathway influenced by various therapeutic targets and some brain disorders, such as epilepsy. This study found that miRNAs encoding LAT might target the STXBP1 and GABBR2 genes, which are among the significant genes in the GABAergic pathway. Bioinformatic analysis utilizing TargetScan version 5.2 and the RNA22 tools uncovered miRNAs encoding LAT that can influence STXBP1 and GABBR2 transcripts. To evaluate the targeting effect of candidate microRNAs encoding LAT, namely, miR-H3 and miR-H4, LAT constructs were transfected into HEK 293T cells. The expression levels of microRNAs encoding LAT, as well as STXBP1 and GABBR2, were assayed by real-time PCR. Finally, the targeting potential of STXBP1 and GABBR2 3'UTR by LAT-encoded microRNAs was evaluated by the luciferase assay. In the current study, the bioinformatic tool TargetScan demonstrated that miR-H3 has the potential to target the transcripts of the STXBP1 and GABBR2 genes, whereas miR-H4 solely targeted GABBR2. On the other hand, the bioinformatic tool RNA22 validated the potential targeting of STXBP1 and GABBR2 by miR-H3 and miR-H4. Our findings showed that overexpression of miR-H4, miR-H3, or LAT significantly decreased STXBP1 gene expression by an average of 0.0593-fold, 0.237-fold, and 0.84-fold, respectively. Similarly, overexpression of miR-H3 or miR-H4 decreased GABBR2 expression by an average of 0.055- or 0.687-fold, respectively. Notably, targeting the GABBR2 3'UTR with the LAT transcript had no detectable effect. The evaluation of the targeting potential of STXBP1 and GABBR2 3'UTR by microRNAs encoded by LAT was conducted with a luciferase assay. Our results showed that miR-H3 overexpression reduces Renilla expression in psiCHECK2 plasmids with STXBP1 or GABBR2 3'UTR genes by 0.62- and 0.55-fold, respectively. miR-H4 reduced Renilla gene expression regulated by GABBR2's 3'UTR plasmid but had no effect on the Renilla gene expression regulated by STXBP1's 3'UTR. When the LAT transcript was overexpressed, there was a decrease in Renilla expression by 0.44-fold because of the regulation of STXBP1's 3'UTR. However, there was no significant effect observed through the control of GABBR2's 3'UTR.

Keywords: GABBR2; Herpes simplex virus type 1; Latency-associated transcript (LAT); STXBP1; miR-H3; miR-H4.