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1.
Mol Ther Nucleic Acids ; 28: 623-635, 2022 Jun 14.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-1804934

ABSTRACT

Natural circular RNAs have been found to sequester microRNAs and suppress their function. We have used this principle as a molecular tool and produced artificial circular RNA sponges in a cell-free system by in vitro transcription and ligation. Formerly, we were able to inhibit hepatitis C virus propagation by applying a circular RNA decoy strategy against microRNA-122, which is essential for the viral life cycle. In another proof-of-principle study, we used circular RNAs to sequester microRNA-21, an oncogenic and pro-proliferative microRNA. This strategy slowed tumor growth in a 3D cell culture model system, as well as in xenograft mice upon systemic delivery. In the wake of the global use of an in vitro transcribed RNA in coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) vaccines, the question arose whether therapeutic circular RNAs trigger cellular antiviral defense mechanisms when delivered systemically. In this study, we present data on the cellular innate immune response as a consequence of liposome-based transfection of the circular RNA sponges we previously used to inhibit microRNA function. We find that circular RNAs produced by the presented methodology do not trigger the antiviral response and do not activate innate immune-signaling pathways.

2.
Eur Respir J ; 56(5)2020 Nov.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-648811

ABSTRACT

While severe coronavirus infections, including Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV), cause lung injury with high mortality rates, protective treatment strategies are not approved for clinical use.We elucidated the molecular mechanisms by which the cyclophilin inhibitors cyclosporin A (CsA) and alisporivir (ALV) restrict MERS-CoV to validate their suitability as readily available therapy in MERS-CoV infection.Calu-3 cells and primary human alveolar epithelial cells (hAECs) were infected with MERS-CoV and treated with CsA or ALV or inhibitors targeting cyclophilin inhibitor-regulated molecules including calcineurin, nuclear factor of activated T-cells (NFATs) or mitogen-activated protein kinases. Novel CsA-induced pathways were identified by RNA sequencing and manipulated by gene knockdown or neutralising antibodies. Viral replication was quantified by quantitative real-time PCR and 50% tissue culture infective dose. Data were validated in a murine MERS-CoV infection model.Both CsA and ALV reduced MERS-CoV titres and viral RNA replication in Calu-3 cells and hAECs, improving epithelial integrity. While neither calcineurin nor NFAT inhibition reduced MERS-CoV propagation, blockade of c-Jun N-terminal kinase diminished infectious viral particle release but not RNA accumulation. Importantly, CsA induced interferon regulatory factor 1 (IRF1), a pronounced type III interferon (IFNλ) response and expression of antiviral genes. Downregulation of IRF1 or IFNλ increased MERS-CoV propagation in the presence of CsA. Importantly, oral application of CsA reduced MERS-CoV replication in vivo, correlating with elevated lung IFNλ levels and improved outcome.We provide evidence that cyclophilin inhibitors efficiently decrease MERS-CoV replication in vitro and in vivo via upregulation of inflammatory antiviral cell responses, in particular IFNλ. CsA might therefore represent a promising candidate for treating MERS-CoV infection.


Subject(s)
Coronavirus Infections/prevention & control , Cyclophilins/antagonists & inhibitors , Cyclosporine/pharmacology , Interferons/metabolism , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/drug effects , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/drug effects , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/metabolism , Alveolar Epithelial Cells/virology , Animals , Calcineurin Inhibitors/pharmacology , Cell Culture Techniques , Coronavirus Infections/metabolism , Disease Models, Animal , Humans , Interferon Regulatory Factor-1/drug effects , Interferon Regulatory Factor-1/metabolism , Interferons/drug effects , Mice , Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus/physiology , Virus Replication/drug effects
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