MS2 VLP-based delivery of microRNA-146a inhibits autoantibody production in lupus-prone mice
Yang Pan,1,2 Tingting Jia,1,2 Yuan Zhang,1,2 Kuo Zhang,1 Rui Zhang,1 Jinming Li,1 Lunan Wang1
1National Center for Clinical Laboratories, Beijing Hospital of the Ministry of Health, Beijing, People’s Republic of China; 2Graduate School, Peking Union Medical College, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, People’s Republic of China
Background: Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease characterized by the presence of pathogenic autoantibodies. Recent studies suggest that microRNAs (miRNAs) play an essential role in immunoregulation and may be involved in the pathogenesis of SLE. Therefore, it was of interest to investigate the potential therapeutic application of miRNAs in SLE, a concept that has not been thoroughly investigated thus far. Virus-like particles (VLPs) are a type of recombinant nanoparticle enveloped by certain proteins derived from the outer coat of a virus. Herein, we describe a novel miRNA-delivery approach via bacteriophage MS2 VLPs and investigate the therapeutic effects of miR-146a, a well-studied and SLE-related miRNA, in BXSB lupus-prone mice.
Methods: VLPs containing miR-146a, and the control VLPs, were prepared using an Escherichia coli expression system and then administered to lupus-prone mice over a 12-day period. We performed an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to evaluate the anti-dsDNA antibody, autoantibody to nuclear antigen (ANA), total IgG and total IgM levels in serum. The expression of miR-146a was analyzed by qRT-PCR. SLE-related cytokines as well as some toll-like receptor signaling pathway molecules were also measured.
Results: Treatment with MS2-miR146a VLP showed profound effects on lupus-prone BXSB mice, including an increased level of mature miR-146a, which led to a significant reduction in the expression of autoantibodies and total IgG. Remarkably, these mice also exhibited reduced levels of proinflammatorycytokines, including IFN-Interferon-α (IFN-α), Interleukin-1β (Il-1β) and Interleukin-6 (Il-6). Moreover, we showed that the toll-like receptor pathway was involved in this regulation.
Conclusion: Restoring the loss of miR-146a was effective in eliminating the production of autoantibodies and ameliorating SLE progression in lupus-prone mice. Thus, the induction of dysregulated miRNAs by an MS2 VLP-based delivery system may lead to novel therapies.
Keywords: systemic lupus erythematosus, anti-dsDNA antibody, autoantibody to nuclear antigen, Toll-like receptor, BXSB mice, gene therapy.
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