Profiling microRNA expression in bovine alveolar macrophages using RNA-seq

Vet Immunol Immunopathol. 2013 Oct 1;155(4):238-44. doi: 10.1016/j.vetimm.2013.08.004. Epub 2013 Aug 24.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of gene expression and are known to play a key role in regulating both adaptive and innate immunity. Bovine alveolar macrophages (BAMs) help maintain lung homeostasis and constitute the front line of host defense against several infectious respiratory diseases, such as bovine tuberculosis. Little is known, however, about the role miRNAs play in these cells. In this study, we used a high-throughput sequencing approach, RNA-seq, to determine the expression levels of known and novel miRNAs in unchallenged BAMs isolated from lung lavages of eight different healthy Holstein-Friesian male calves. Approximately 80 million sequence reads were generated from eight BAM miRNA Illumina sequencing libraries, and 80 miRNAs were identified as being expressed in BAMs at a threshold of at least 100 reads per million (RPM). The expression levels of miRNAs varied over a large dynamic range, with a few miRNAs expressed at very high levels (up to 800,000RPM), and the majority lowly expressed. Notably, many of the most highly expressed miRNAs in BAMs have known roles in regulating immunity in other species (e.g. bta-let-7i, bta-miR-21, bta-miR-27, bta-miR-99b, bta-miR-146, bta-miR-147, bta-miR-155 and bta-miR-223). The most highly expressed miRNA in BAMs was miR-21, which has been shown to regulate the expression of antimicrobial peptides in Mycobacterium leprae-infected human monocytes. Furthermore, the predicted target genes of BAM-expressed miRNAs were found to be statistically enriched for roles in innate immunity. In addition to profiling the expression of known miRNAs, the RNA-seq data was also analysed to identify potentially novel bovine miRNAs. One putatively novel bovine miRNA was identified. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first RNA-seq study to profile miRNA expression in BAMs and provides an important reference dataset for investigating the regulatory roles miRNAs play in this important immune cell type.

Keywords: Alveolar macrophage; BAM; Bovine; HBSS; Hank's balanced salt solution; MDS; MicroRNA; RIN; RISC; RNA integrity number; RNA-induced silencing complex; RNA-seq; RPM; RT-qPCR; TLR; Toll-like receptor; UTR; bovine alveolar macrophage; mRNA; messenger RNA; miRNA; microRNA; mitochondrial RNA; mtRNA; multidimensional scaling; ncRNA; non-coding RNA; quantitative reverse transcription PCR; rRNA; reads per million; ribosomal RNA; small nuclear RNA; small nucleolar RNA; snRNA; snoRNA; tRNA; transfer RNA; untranslated region.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adaptive Immunity / genetics
  • Adaptive Immunity / immunology*
  • Animals
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / cytology
  • Bronchoalveolar Lavage Fluid / immunology
  • Cattle / immunology*
  • Immunity, Innate / genetics
  • Immunity, Innate / immunology*
  • Lung / cytology
  • Lung / immunology*
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / cytology
  • Macrophages, Alveolar / immunology*
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / immunology*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA / veterinary


  • MicroRNAs

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE41138