Defining the pig microglial transcriptome reveals its core signature, regional heterogeneity, and similarity with human and rodent microglia: Pig microglial transcriptome signature

Barbara Shih, Sarah Brown, Jack Barrington, Lucas Lefevre, Neil Mabbott, Josef Priller, Gerard Thompson, Alistair Lawrence*, Barry W McColl*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Microglia play key roles in brain homeostasis as well as responses to neurodegeneration and neuroinflammatory processes caused by physical disease and psychosocial stress. The pig is a physiologically-relevant model species for studying human neurological disorders, many of which are associated with microglial dysfunction. Furthermore, pigs are an important agricultural species, and there is a need to understand how microglial function affects their welfare. As a basis for improved understanding to enhance biomedical and agricultural research, we sought to characterise pig microglial identity at genome-wide scale and conduct inter-species comparisons.
We isolated pig hippocampal tissue and microglia from frontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum, as well as alveolar macrophages from the lungs and conducted RNA-sequencing (RNAseq). By comparing the transcriptomic profiles between microglia, macrophages, and hippocampal tissue, we derived a set of 239 highly-enriched genes defining the porcine core microglial signature. We found brain regional heterogeneity based on 150 genes showing significant (adjusted p<0.01) regional variations and that cerebellar microglia were most distinct. We compared normalised gene expression for microglia from human, mice and pigs using microglia signature gene lists derived from each species
and demonstrated that a core microglial marker gene signature is conserved across species, but that species-specific expression subsets also exist.
Our data provide a valuable resource defining the pig microglial transcriptome signature that validates and highlights pigs as a useful large animal species bridging between rodents and humans in which to study the role of microglia during homeostasis and disease.
Original languageEnglish
JournalGlia
Early online date19 Sep 2022
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 19 Sep 2022

Keywords

  • Microglia
  • pig
  • macrophage
  • transcriptome
  • signature

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