Integrated analysis of dysregulated microRNA and mRNA expression in intestinal epithelial cells following ethanol intoxication and burn injury

Sci Rep. 2021 Oct 12;11(1):20213. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-99281-1.


Gut barrier dysfunction is often implicated in pathology following alcohol intoxication and burn injury. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are negative regulators of gene expression that play a central role in gut homeostasis, although their role after alcohol and burn injury is poorly understood. We performed an integrated analysis of miRNA and RNA sequencing data to identify a network of interactions within small intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) which could promote gut barrier disruption. Mice were gavaged with ~ 2.9 g/kg ethanol and four hours later given a ~ 12.5% TBSA full thickness scald injury. One day later, IECs were harvested and total RNA extracted for RNA-seq and miRNA-seq. RNA sequencing showed 712 differentially expressed genes (DEGs) (padj < 0.05) in IECs following alcohol and burn injury. Furthermore, miRNA sequencing revealed 17 differentially expressed miRNAs (DEMs) (padj < 0.1). Utilizing the miRNet, miRDB and TargetScan databases, we identified both validated and predicted miRNA gene targets. Integration of small RNA sequencing data with mRNA sequencing results identified correlated changes in miRNA and target expression. Upregulated miRNAs were associated with decreased proliferation (miR-98-3p and miR-381-3p) and cellular adhesion (miR-29a-3p, miR-429-3p and miR3535), while downregulated miRNAs were connected to upregulation of apoptosis (Let-7d-5p and miR-130b-5p) and metabolism (miR-674-3p and miR-185-5p). Overall, these findings suggest that alcohol and burn injury significantly alters the mRNA and miRNA expression profile of IECs and reveals numerous miRNA-mRNA interactions that regulate critical pathways for gut barrier function after alcohol and burn injury.