Background: Peripheral nerve injury leads to changes in gene expression in primary sensory neurons of the injured dorsal root ganglia. These changes are believed to be involved in neuropathic pain genesis. Previously, these changes have been identified using gene microarrays or next generation RNA sequencing with poly-A tail selection, but these approaches cannot provide a more thorough analysis of gene expression alterations after nerve injury.
Methods: The present study chose to eliminate mRNA poly-A tail selection and perform strand-specific next generation RNA sequencing to analyze whole transcriptomes in the injured dorsal root ganglia following spinal nerve ligation. Quantitative real-time reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction assay was carried out to verify the changes of some differentially expressed RNAs in the injured dorsal root ganglia after spinal nerve ligation.
Results: Our results showed that more than 50 million (M) paired mapped sequences with strand information were yielded in each group (51.87 M-56.12 M in sham vs. 51.08 M-57.99 M in spinal nerve ligation). Six days after spinal nerve ligation, expression levels of 11,163 out of a total of 27,463 identified genes in the injured dorsal root ganglia significantly changed, of which 52.14% were upregulated and 47.86% downregulated. The largest transcriptional changes were observed in protein-coding genes (91.5%) followed by noncoding RNAs. Within 944 differentially expressed noncoding RNAs, the most significant changes were seen in long interspersed noncoding RNAs followed by antisense RNAs, processed transcripts, and pseudogenes. We observed a notable proportion of reads aligning to intronic regions in both groups (44.0% in sham vs. 49.6% in spinal nerve ligation). Using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction, we confirmed consistent differential expression of selected genes including Kcna2, Oprm1 as well as lncRNAs Gm21781 and 4732491K20Rik following spinal nerve ligation.
Conclusion: Our findings suggest that next generation RNA sequencing can be used as a promising approach to analyze the changes of whole transcriptomes in dorsal root ganglia following nerve injury and to possibly identify new targets for prevention and treatment of neuropathic pain.
Keywords: Dorsal root ganglion; neuropathic pain; next generation sequencing; transcriptomes.
© The Author(s) 2016.