At later phases of folliculogenesis, the mammalian ovarian follicle contains layers of granulosa cells surrounding an antral cavity. To better understand the molecular basis of follicular growth and granulosa cell maturation, we study transcriptome profiling of granulosa cells from small (<5 mm) and large (>10 mm) bovine follicles using simultaneous method of Affymetrix microarrays (24,128 probe sets) and RNA-Seq data sets. This study proposes a computational method to discover the functional miRNA–mRNA regulatory modules, that is, groups of miRNAs and their target mRNAs that are believed to take part cooperatively in post-transcriptional gene regulation under specific conditions. The reconstructed network was named Integrated miRNA–mRNA Bipartite Network. 277 genes and 6 key modules were disclosed through clustering for mRNA master list. The 66 genes are among the genes that belong to at least two modules. All these genes, being involved in at least one of the phenomena, namely cell survival, proliferation, metastasis and apoptosis, have an overexpression pattern (P < 0.01). For miRNA master list, a total of 172 sequences were differentially expressed (P < 0.01) between dominant (large) and each of subordinate (small) follicles. Within the follicle, these miRNAs were predominantly expressed in mural granulosa cells. Finally, predicted and validated targets of these miRNAs enriched in dominant (large) follicles were identified, which are mapped to signaling pathways involved in follicular cell proliferation, steroidogenesis, PI3K/AKT/mTOR and Ras/Raf/MEK/ERK. The identification of miRNAs and their target mRNAs and the construction of their regulatory networks may give new insights into biological procedures.
Source: The journal of Reproductive Science