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Profiling microRNAs in lung tissue from pigs infected with Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae

Agnieszka Podolska12, Christian Anthon13, Mads Bak34, Niels Tommerup34, Kerstin Skovgaard5, Peter MH Heegaard5, Jan Gorodkin13, Susanna Cirera1* and Merete Fredholm13

Author affiliations

1 Department of Veterinary Clinical and Animal Sciences, Section of Anatomy, Cell Biology, Genetics and Bioinformatics, University of Copenhagen, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Copenhagen, Denmark

2 Biotech Research & Innovation Centre (BRIC), University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

3 Center for non-coding RNA in Technology and Health, University of Copenhagen, Copenhagen, Denmark

4 Department of Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Panum Institute, Copenhagen, Denmark

5 Innate Immunology Group, National Veterinary Institute, Technical University of Denmark, Copenhagen, Denmark

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2012, 13:459  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-459

Published: 6 September 2012



MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of non-protein-coding genes that play a crucial regulatory role in mammalian development and disease. Whereas a large number of miRNAs have been annotated at the structural level during the latest years, functional annotation is sparse. Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae (APP) causes serious lung infections in pigs. Severe damage to the lungs, in many cases deadly, is caused by toxins released by the bacterium and to some degree by host mediated tissue damage. However, understanding of the role of microRNAs in the course of this infectious disease in porcine is still very limited.


In this study, the RNA extracted from visually unaffected and necrotic tissue from pigs infected with Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae was subjected to small RNA deep sequencing. We identified 169 conserved and 11 candidate novel microRNAs in the pig. Of these, 17 were significantly up-regulated in the necrotic sample and 12 were down-regulated. The expression analysis of a number of candidates revealed microRNAs of potential importance in the innate immune response. MiR-155, a known key player in inflammation, was found expressed in both samples. Moreover, miR-664-5p, miR-451 and miR-15a appear as very promising candidates for microRNAs involved in response to pathogen infection.


This is the first study revealing significant differences in composition and expression profiles of miRNAs in lungs infected with a bacterial pathogen. Our results extend annotation of microRNA in pig and provide insight into the role of a number of microRNAs in regulation of bacteria induced immune and inflammatory response in porcine lung.

MicroRNA; RNAseq; High throughput sequencing; RT-qPCR; Actinobacillus pleuropneumoniae; Pig; Pleuropneumonia