Identification and Characterization of Liver MicroRNAs of the Chinese Tree Shrew via Deep Sequencing

Hepat Mon. 2015 Oct 3;15(10):e29053. doi: 10.5812/hepatmon.29053. eCollection 2015 Oct.


Background: Chinese tree shrew (Tupaia belangeri chinensis) is a small animal that possess many features, which are valuable in biomedical research, as experimental models. Currently, there are numerous attempts to utilize tree shrews as models for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection.

Objectives: This study aimed to construct a liver microRNA (miRNA) data of the tree shrew.

Materials and methods: Three second filial generation tree shrews were used in this study. Total RNA was extracted from each liver of the tree shrew and equal quality mixed, then reverse-transcribed to complementary DNA (cDNA). The cDNAs were amplified by polymerase chain reaction and subjected to high-throughput sequencing.

Results: A total of 2060 conserved miRNAs were identified through alignment with the mature miRNAs in miRBase 20.0 database. The gene ontology and Kyoto encyclopedia of genes and genomes analyses of the target genes of the miRNAs revealed several candidate miRNAs, genes and pathways that may involve in the process of HCV infection. The abundance of miR-122 and Let-7 families and their other characteristics provided us more evidences for the utilization of this animal, as a potential model for HCV infection and other related biomedical research. Moreover, 80 novel microRNAs were predicted using the software Mireap. The top 3 abundant miRNAs were validated in other tree samples, based on stem-loop quantitative reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction.

Conclusions: According to the liver microRNA data of Chinese tree shrew, characteristics of the miR-122 and Let-7 families further highlight the suitability of tree shrew as the animal model in HCV research.

Keywords: Hepatitis C Virus; High-Throughput Sequencing; Liver; MicroRNAs; Tree Shrew.