Hepatitis B virus (HBV) infection is one of the most serious global health problems. Our previous data using an in vitro assay revealed that miR-6126 suppressed the extracellular HBs antigen level, suggesting that miR-6126 had potential to suppress viral activity of HBV. In the current study, we aimed to clarify whether miR-6126 downregulated the expression level of sodium taurocholate cotransporting polypeptide (NTCP), a host cell receptor required for HBV entry. In brief, HepG2-NTCP cells were utilized to evaluate the expression level of NTCP and the PreS1 attachment to NTCP after transfection with miR-6126. The protein expression level of NTCP was evaluated using Western blot analysis and immunostaining. In addition to HepG2-NTCP cells, PXB cells were also utilized to validate inhibitory effect of miR-6126 on PreS1 attachment. The HBs antigen level in the culture supernatant was measured to evaluate reduction of HBV entry into hepatocytes. The stability of NTCP mRNA was evaluated to ascertain the cause of the downregulation of NTCP mRNA. The expression profile of messenger RNAs was evaluated using next-generation sequencing to search for direct targets of miR-6126. Consequently, transfection of miR-6126 decreased the NTCP expression level in HepG2-NTCP cells. Attachment of the PreS1 probe on the cell surface decreased in HepG2-NTCP cells and PXB cells, primary human hepatocytes. HBs antigen level in the culture supernatant also declined in PXB cells. Stability of NTCP mRNA was reduced by miR-6126 transfection in HepG2 cells. In conclusion, miR-6126 downregulated the expression of NTCP mRNA, which contributed to the inhibition of HBV entry into hepatocytes exerted by miR-6126.
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