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This article is part of the supplement: International Workshop on Computational Systems Biology: Approaches to Analysis of Genome Complexity and Regulatory Gene Networks

Open Access Highly Accessed Research

Analysis of deep sequencing microRNA expression profile from human embryonic stem cells derived mesenchymal stem cells reveals possible role of let-7 microRNA family in downstream targeting of Hepatic Nuclear Factor 4 Alpha

Winston Koh1, Chen Tian Sheng2, Betty Tan1, Qian Yi Lee1, Vladimir Kuznetsov1, Lim Sai Kiang2 and Vivek Tanavde1*

Author Affiliations

1 Bioinformatics Institute (BII), Agency of Science Technology and Research (A*STAR) 30 Biopolis Street, #07-01 Matrix, Singapore 138671

2 Institute of Medical Biology A*STAR 8A Biomedical Grove, #06-06 Immunos, Singapore 138648

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BMC Genomics 2010, 11(Suppl 1):S6  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-11-S1-S6

Published: 10 February 2010

Abstract

Background

Recent literature has revealed that genetic exchange of microRNA between cells can be essential for cell-cell communication, tissue-specificity and developmental processes. In stem cells, as in other cells, this can be accomplished through microvesicles or exosome mediated transfer. However, molecular profiles and functions of microRNAs within the cells and in their exosomes are poorly studied. Next generation sequencing technologies could provide a broad-spectrum of microRNAs and their expression and identify possible microRNA targets. In this work, we performed deep sequencing of microRNAs to understand the profile and expression of the microRNAs in microvesicles and intracellular environment of human embryonic stem cells derived mesenchymal stem cells (hES-MSC).

We outline a workflow pertaining to visualizing, statistical analysis and interpreting deep sequencing data of known intracellular and extracellular microRNAs from hES-MSC). We utilized these results of which directed our attention towards establishing hepatic nuclear factor 4 alpha (HNF4A) as a downstream target of let-7 family of microRNAs.

Results

In our study, significant differences in expression profile of microRNAs were found in the intracellular and extracellular environment of hES-MSC. However, a high level of let-7 family of microRNAs is predominant in both intra- and extra- cellular samples of hES-MSC. Further results derived from visualization of our alignment data and network analysis showed that let-7 family microRNAs could affect the downstream target HNF4A, which is a known endodermal differentiation marker. The elevated presence of let-7 microRNA in both intracellular and extra cellular environment further suggests a possible intercellular signalling mechanism through microvesicles transfer. We suggest that let-7 family microRNAs might play a signalling role via such a mechanism amongst populations of stem cells in maintaining self renewal property by suppressing HNF4A expression. This is in line with recent paradigm where microRNAs regulate self-renewal and differentiation pathways of embryonic stem cells by forming an integral biological network with transcription factors.

Conclusion

In summary, our study using a combination of alignment, statistical and network analysis tools to examine deep sequencing data of microRNAs in hES-MSC has led to a result that (i) identifies intracellular and exosome microRNA expression profiles of hES-MSCwith a possible mechanism of miRNA mediated intercellular regulation by these cells and (ii) placed HNF4A within the cross roads of regulation by the let-7 family of microRNAs.