Table_1.DOCX

Micro RNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as a critical regulator of several biological processes in both animals and plants. They have also been associated with regulation of immune responses in many human diseases during recent years. Visceral leishmaniasis (VL) is the most severe form of leishmaniasis, which is characterized by impairment of both innate and adaptive immune responses. In the present study, we observed that Leishmania establishes hypoxic environment in host macrophages that induces the expression of hypoxia inducible factor-1α (HIF-1α) and miRNA-210. Further, the expression of miRNA-210 was found to be dependent on activation of HIF-1α expression. The HIF-1α silencing by siRNA resulted in significantly (p < 0.001) decreased expression of miR-210 in parasites infected macrophages. We also observed that in siHIF-1α or antagomir-210 treated L. donovani infected macrophages, the parasitic load and percentage infectivity were significantly (p < 0.001) decreased. Furthermore, we found that inhibition of miR-210 leads to activation of NF-κB subunit p50, and it forms heterodimer with p65 and translocates into the nucleus from the cytoplasm. This significantly (p < 0.05) induced the transcription of pro-inflammatory cytokines genes such as TNF-α and IL-12 in miRNA-210 inhibited macrophages compared to uninhibited macrophages whereas the level of IL-10, an anti-inflammatory cytokine, was found to be significantly decreased (p < 0.001). These findings suggested that L. donovani infection induces hypoxic environment inside the macrophages that activates HIF-1α. Further, HIF-1α upregulates miR-210, which eventually establishes a suitable environment for the survival of parasite inside the host macrophages by downregulating NF-κB mediated pro-inflammatory immune responses.