MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are increasingly being shown to play vital roles in development, apoptosis, and oncogenesis by interfering with gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. miRNAs, in principle, can contribute to the repertoire of host pathogen interactions during HIV-1 infection. Using a consensus scoring approach, high scoring miRNA-target pairs were selected which were identified by four well-established target prediction softwares. While hsa-mir-29a and 29b target the nef gene, hsa-mir-149 targets the vpr gene, hsa-mir-378 targets env, and hsa-mir-324-5p targets the vif gene. Not only were the minimum free energy values lowest for the bound complex, but also, the rules so far observed for microRNA-target pairing, viz., a continuous stretch of 6-7 base pairing towards the 5′ end of the miRNA and incomplete complementarity with the target sequence, were found to be valid. The target regions were highly conserved across the various clades of HIV-1. microRNA expression profiles from previously reported microarray based experiments show that the five human miRNAs are expressed in T-cells, the normal site of infection of HIV-1 virus. This is the first report of human microRNAs which can target crucial HIV-1 genes including the nef gene, which plays an important role in delayed disease progression. © 2005 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
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