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Current Topics in Medicinal Chemistry


ISSN (Print): 1568-0266
ISSN (Online): 1873-4294

Cellular Selenoprotein mRNA Tethering via Antisense Interactions with Ebola and HIV-1 mRNAs May Impact Host Selenium Biochemistry

Author(s): Ethan Will Taylor, Jan A. Ruzicka, Lakmini Premadasa and Lijun Zhao

Volume 16, Issue 13, 2016

Page: [1530 - 1535] Pages: 6

DOI: 10.2174/1568026615666150915121633

open access plus


Regulation of protein expression by non-coding RNAs typically involves effects on mRNA degradation and/or ribosomal translation. The possibility of virus-host mRNA-mRNA antisense tethering interactions (ATI) as a gain-of-function strategy, via the capture of functional RNA motifs, has not been hitherto considered. We present evidence that ATIs may be exploited by certain RNA viruses in order to tether the mRNAs of host selenoproteins, potentially exploiting the proximity of a captured host selenocysteine insertion sequence (SECIS) element to enable the expression of virally-encoded selenoprotein modules, via translation of in-frame UGA stop codons as selenocysteine. Computational analysis predicts thermodynamically stable ATIs between several widely expressed mammalian selenoprotein mRNAs (e.g., isoforms of thioredoxin reductase) and specific Ebola virus mRNAs, and HIV-1 mRNA, which we demonstrate via DNA gel shift assays. The probable functional significance of these ATIs is further supported by the observation that, in both viruses, they are located in close proximity to highly conserved in-frame UGA stop codons at the 3′ end of open reading frames that encode essential viral proteins (the HIV-1 nef protein and the Ebola nucleoprotein). Significantly, in HIV/AIDS patients, an inverse correlation between serum selenium and mortality has been repeatedly documented, and clinical benefits of selenium in the context of multi-micronutrient supplementation have been demonstrated in several well-controlled clinical trials. Hence, in the light of our findings, the possibility of a similar role for selenium in Ebola pathogenesis and treatment merits serious investigation.

Keywords: Antisense, Ebola, mRNA, Selenium, Selenoprotein, HIV, Tethering, Thioredoxin reductase

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