Integrated miRNA-mRNA network revealing the key molecular characteristics of ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament

Medicine (Baltimore). 2020 May 22;99(21):e20268. doi: 10.1097/MD.0000000000020268.


Background: Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament (OPLL) refers to an ectopic ossification disease originating from the posterior longitudinal ligament of the spine. Pressing on the spinal cord or nerve roots can cause limb sensory and motor disorders, significantly reducing the patient's quality of life. At present, the pathogenesis of OPLL is still unclear. The purpose of this study is to integrate microRNA (miRNA)-mRNA biological information data to further analyze the important molecules in the pathogenesis of OPLL, so as to provide targets for future OPLL molecular therapy.

Methods: miRNA and mRNA expression profiles of GSE69787 were downloaded from Gene Expression Omnibus database and analyzed by edge R package. Funrich software was used to predict the target genes and transcription factors of de-miRNA. Gene ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes enrichment analysis of differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were carried out based on CLUEGO plug-in in Cytoscape. Using data collected from a search tool for the retrieval of interacting genes online database, a protein-protein interaction (PPI) network was constructed using Cytoscape. The hub gene selection and module analysis of PPI network were carried out by cytoHubba and molecular complex detection, plug-ins of Cytoscape software respectively.

Results: A total of 346 genes, including 247 up-regulated genes and 99 down-regulated genes were selected as DEGs. SP1 was identified as an upstream transcription factor of de-miRNAs. Notably, gene ontology enrichment analysis shows that up- and down-regulated DEGs are mainly involved in BP, such as skeletal structure morphogenesis, skeletal system development, and animal organ morphogenesis. Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes enrichment analysis indicated that only WNT signaling pathway was associated with osteogenic differentiation. Lymphoid enhancer binding factor 1 and wingless-type MMTV integration site family member 2 Wingless-Type MMTV Integration site family member 2 were identified as hub genes, miR-520d-3p, miR-4782-3p, miR-6766-3p, and miR-199b-5p were identified as key miRNAs. In addition, 2 important network modules were obtained from PPI network.

Conclusions: In this study, we established a potential miRNA-mRNA regulatory network associated with OPLL, revealing the key molecular mechanism of OPLL and providing targets for future treatment or prevent its occurrence.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / instrumentation*
  • Down-Regulation / genetics
  • Gene Expression Profiling / instrumentation
  • Gene Ontology
  • Gene Regulatory Networks / genetics
  • Humans
  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1 / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament / genetics*
  • Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament / pathology
  • Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament / physiopathology
  • Ossification of Posterior Longitudinal Ligament / psychology
  • Osteogenesis / genetics
  • Protein Interaction Maps / genetics
  • Quality of Life
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics*
  • Spine / pathology
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Up-Regulation / genetics
  • Wnt Signaling Pathway / genetics
  • Wnt2 Protein / genetics*


  • Lymphoid Enhancer-Binding Factor 1
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger
  • Transcription Factors
  • WNT2 protein, human
  • Wnt2 Protein

Supplementary concepts

  • Ossification of the posterior longitudinal ligament of the spine