MicroRNAs (miRNAs) regulate gene expression via translational repression and play an essential role in physiological and pathophysiological processes, including cell proliferation, metabolism, differentiation, and apoptosis. Previous studies also indicate that for some viruses, including coronaviruses, miRNAs are an integral part of the virus life cycle contributing to pathogenicity and pathology. In light of the SARS-CoV-2 crisis, the impact of miRNA dysregulation on viral infection quickly emerged as a critical focus area for research. Understanding the role of differential miRNA expression during SARS-CoV-2 infection may lead to the discovery of novel disease mechanisms and uncover promising candidates for potential biomarkers and drug targets.
miRNA play a role in the life cycle and pathogenicity of SARS-CoV-2
A recent review article highlights the growing number of research studies that identify numerous human and virus-encoded miRNAs with roles in the viral life cycle and SARS-CoV-2 pathogenicity1. Researchers have already identified miRNA candidates for potential biomarkers, antiviral agents, and treatments of SARS-CoV-2 associated diseases using various sequencing screening methods and predictive computational analysis. This emerging body of work highlights the importance of miRNAs in the context of SARS-CoV-2 research and development pipelines.
Roles for miRNA in SARS-CoV-2 life cycle1:
- Viral entry
- Protein synthesis
- Virion release
Roles for miRNA in SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis1:
- Promote inflammation
- Inhibit immune cell activation and expansion
- Prevent host cell apoptosis
What is miRNA and how does it work?
MiRNAs are short, noncoding single-strand RNAs that regulate gene expression via translational repression. The binding of a miRNA to its complementary messenger RNA (mRNA) initiates mRNA degradation or inhibition, thereby preventing protein synthesis and modulating associated cellular pathways. A single miRNA can simultaneously regulate hundreds of genes, often in cell-specific networks. Therefore, analyzing differential miRNA expression is paramount to understanding the diverse pathophysiology of SARS-CoV-2 associated disease and infection.
Real-time PCR is a simple, robust solution for miRNA analysis
To help rapidly address the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 crisis, researchers require a simple, robust solution to quickly validate computational findings, study miRNA expression levels, and progress through the therapeutic research pipeline. With unparalleled sensitivity and specificity, real-time PCR is an accurate and efficient platform that scientists can quickly deploy to generate robust data for impactful research studying antiviral efficacy, biomarker viability, and infection mechanisms.
The sensitivity and specificity of Applied Biosystems™ TaqMan™ miRNA Assays enable quantification of low-expressing miRNA targets in various sample tissues and biofluids, even for closely related miRNA families, enabling accurate results. Combined with optimized workflows and complementary reagents, our comprehensive portfolio of predesigned and custom miRNA assays enables a seamless transition from candidate identification to expression analysis, helping save valuable time during experimental design and execution. Thus, our miRNA analysis solutions for SARS-CoV-2 research help maximize resources and results to assist researchers in quickly unlocking novel disease mechanisms and investigating promising candidates for potential drug targets and biomarkers.
Read the review article: MicroRNAs and SARS-CoV-2 life cycle, pathogenesis, and mutations: biomarkers or therapeutic agents?
1. Abedi F, Rezaee R, Hayes AW, Nasiripour S, Karimi G. MicroRNAs and SARS-CoV-2 life cycle, pathogenesis, and mutations: biomarkers or therapeutic agents? Cell Cycle. 2021;20(2):143-153. doi:10.1080/15384101.2020.1867792