Broad-Spectrum Inhibition of Respiratory Virus Infection by MicroRNA Mimics Targeting p38 MAPK Signaling

Jana L. Mccaskill, Sarah Ressel, Andreas Alber, Jane Redford, Ultan F. Power, Jürgen Schwarze, Bernadette M. Dutia, Amy H. Buck

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The majority of antiviral therapeutics target conserved viral proteins, however, this approach confers selective pressure on the virus and increases the probability of antiviral drug resistance. An alternative therapeutic strategy is to target the host-encoded factors that are required for virus infection, thus minimizing the opportunity for viral mutations that escape drug activity. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that play diverse roles in normal and disease biology, and they generally operate through the post-transcriptional regulation of mRNA targets. We have previously identified cellular miRNAs that have antiviral activity against a broad range of herpesvirus infections, and here we extend the antiviral profile of a number of these miRNAs against influenza and respiratory syncytial virus. From these screening experiments, we identified broad-spectrum antiviral miRNAs that caused >75% viral suppression in all strains tested, and we examined their mechanism of action using reverse-phase protein array analysis. Targets of lead candidates, miR-124, miR-24, and miR-744, were identified within the p38 mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) signaling pathway, and this work identified MAPK-activated protein kinase 2 as a broad-spectrum antiviral target required for both influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) infection.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)256-266
Number of pages11
JournalMolecular Therapy - Nucleic Acids
Early online date6 Apr 2017
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jun 2017


  • microRNA
  • antiviral
  • virus
  • respiratory
  • host-pathogen


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