Upregulation of miRNA- 4776 in Influenza Virus Infected Bronchial Epithelial Cells Is Associated with Downregulation of NFKBIB and Increased Viral Survival

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Influenza A virus (IAV) infection remains a significant cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. One key transcription factor that is activated upon IAV infection is nuclear factor Kappa B (NF-κB). NF-κB regulation involves the inhibitor proteins NF-κB inhibitor beta (NFKBIB), (also known as IκB β), which form complexes with NF-κB to sequester it in the cytoplasm. In this study, microarray data showed differential expression of several microRNAs (miRNAs) on exposure to IAV. Target scan analysis revealed that miR-4776, miR-4514 and miR-4742 potentially target NFKBIB messenger RNA (mRNA). Time-course analysis of primary bronchial epithelial cells (HBEpCs) showed that miR-4776 expression is increased within 1 h of infection, followed by its downregulation 4 h post-exposure to IAV. NFKBIB upregulation of miR-4776 correlated with a decrease in NFKBIB expression within 1 h of infection and a subsequent increase in NFKBIB expression 4 h post-infection. In addition, miRNA ago-immunoprecipitation studies and the three prime untranslated region (3’ UTR) luciferase assay confirmed that miR-4776 targets NFKBIB mRNA. Furthermore, uninfected HBEpCs transfected with miR-4776 mimic showed decreased expression of NFKBIB mRNA. Overexpression of NFKBIB protein in IAV infected cells led to lower levels of IAV. Taken together, our data suggest that miRNA-4776 modulates IAV production in infected cells through NFKBIB expression, possibly through the modulation of NF-κB.