Characterization of microRNAs in orange-spotted grouper (Epinephelus coioides) fin cells upon red-spotted grouper nervous necrosis virus infection

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Nervous necrosis virus (NNV), one of the most prevalent fish pathogens, has caused fatal disease of viral nervous necrosis (VNN) in many marine and freshwater fishes, and resulted in heavy economic losses in aquaculture industry worldwide. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the pathogenicity of NNV remain elusive. In this study, the expression profiles of microRNA (miRNA) were investigated in grouper fin (GF-1) cells infected with red-spotted grouper nervous necrosis virus (RGNNV) via deep sequencing technique. The results showed that a total of 220 miRNAs were identified by aligning the small RNA sequences with the miRNA database of zebrafish, and 18 novel miRNAs were predicted using miRDeep2 software. Compared with the non-infected groups, 51 and 16 differentially expressed miRNAs (DE-miRNAs) were identified in the samples infected with RGNNV at 3 and 24 h, respectively. Six DE-miRNAs were randomly selected to validate their expressions using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), the results showed that their expression profiles were consistent with those obtained by deep sequencing. The target genes of the DE-miRNAs covered a wide range of functions, such as regulation of transcription, oxidation-reduction process, proteolysis, regulation of apoptotic process, and immune response. In addition, the effects of four DE-miRNAs including miR-1, miR-30b, miR-150, and miR-184 on RGNNV replication were evaluated, and the results showed that over-expression of each of the four miRNAs promoted the replication of RGNNV. These data provide insight into the molecular mechanism of RGNNV infection, and will benefit for the development of effective strategies to control RGNNV infection.

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