Adenoviral small non-coding RNAs : A Structural and Functional Charaterization

Sammanfattning: Since their discovery in 1953, adenoviruses have significantly contributed to the understanding of virus-host cell interactions, including mechanistic details of cellular processes such as cell cycle control and alternative RNA splicing. Among the first characterized adenoviral genes were the virus-associated RNAs (VA RNAI/II), which are produced in massive amount during a lytic infection. The VA RNAs perform multiple functions and are required for a successful adenovirus life cycle. More recently, it was shown that the VA RNAs are processed into small viral miRNAs, so-called mivaRNAs, which interfere with the function of the cellular RNAi/miRNA machinery.In papers I and II, we focused on a structural and functional characterization of the mivaRNAs using two approaches. Firstly, we created a model system where the predicted miRNA-like function of mivaRNAI could be investigated, without interfering with other VA RNA functions. This was accomplished by construction of recombinant adenoviruses, in which the seed sequence of mivaRNAI was altered. The results showed that in cell culture experiments the mivaRNAI seed sequence mutants grew as the wild type virus, suggesting that the mivaRNAs are not required during the lytic phase of an adenovirus infection. Secondly, we showed that the VA RNAs from different human adenoviruses (Ad4, Ad5, Ad11 and Ad37) undergo the same type of Dicer-dependent processing into mivaRNAs, which subsequently are loaded onto the RNA induced silencing complex (RISC), albeit with different efficiencies.In paper III, we demonstrated that the promoter proximal region of the adenovirus major late promoter (MLP) produces a novel non-canonical class of small RNAs, which we termed the MLP-TSS-sRNAs. Surprisingly the MLP-TSS-sRNA maintains the m7G-cap structure while bound to Ago2 containing RISC. These complexes are functional suppressing expression of target mRNAs with complementary binding site. Most importantly, the MLP-TSS-sRNA limits the efficiency of viral DNA replication probably through a targeting of the E2B mRNAs, which are transcribed in the antisense orientation. In conclusion, the MLP-TSS-sRNA represents the first viral small RNA, which has been shown to have a function as a regulator of an adenovirus infection.