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Identification of miRNAs associated with the follicular-luteal transition in the ruminant ovary

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)221-233
JournalReproduction
Volume144
Issue number2
Early online date2 Jun 2012
DOIs
StatePublished - Aug 2012

Abstract

Little is known about the involvement of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the follicular-luteal transition. The aim of this study was to identify genome-wide changes in miRNAs associated with follicular differentiation in sheep. miRNA libraries were produced from samples collected at defined stages of the ovine oestrous cycle and representing healthy growing follicles (diameter, 4.0-5.5 mm) pre-ovulatory follicles (6.0-7.0 mm), early corpora lutea (day 3 post-oestrus) and late corpora lutea (day 9). A total of 189 miRNAs reported in sheep or other species and an additional 23 novel miRNAs were identified by sequencing these libraries. miR-21, miR-125b, let-7a and let-7b were the most abundant miRNAs overall, accounting for 40% of all miRNAs sequenced. Examination of changes in cloning frequencies across development identified nine different miRNAs which expression decreased in association with the follicular-luteal transition and eight miRNAs which expression increased during this transition. Expression profiles were confirmed by Northern analyses, and experimentally validated targets were identified using miRTarBase. A majority of the 29 targets identified represented genes known to be actively involved in regulating follicular differentiation in vivo. Finally, luteinisation of follicular cells in vitro resulted in changes in miRNA levels that were consistent with those identified in vivo, and these changes were temporally associated with changes in levels of putative miRNA targets in granulosa cells. In conclusion, this is the first study to characterise genome-wide miRNA profiles during different stages of follicle and luteal development. Our data identifies a subset of miRNAs which are potentially important regulators of the follicular-luteal transition.

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