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Open Access Research article

The miRNAome of the postpartum dairy cow liver in negative energy balance

Attia Fatima12, David J Lynn3, Padraic O’Boyle2, Cathal Seoighe2 and Dermot Morris1*

Author Affiliations

1 Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Teagasc, Mellows Campus, Athenry, Co, Galway, Ireland

2 School of Mathematics, Statistics and Applied Mathematics National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland

3 Animal and Bioscience Research Department, Animal & Grassland Research and Innovation Centre, Grange, Dunsany, Co, Meath, Ireland

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BMC Genomics 2014, 15:279  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-15-279

Published: 12 April 2014

Abstract

Background

Negative energy balance (NEB) is an altered metabolic state in high yielding cows that occurs during the first few weeks postpartum when energy demands for lactation and maintenance exceed the energy supply from dietary intake. NEB can, in turn, lead to metabolic disorders and to reduced fertility. Alterations in the expression of more than 700 hepatic genes have previously been reported in a study of NEB in postpartum dairy cows. miRNAs (microRNA) are known to mediate many alterations in gene expression post transcriptionally. To study the hepatic miRNA content of postpartum dairy cows, including their overall abundance and differential expression, in mild NEB (MNEB) and severe NEB (SNEB), short read RNA sequencing was carried out. To identify putative targets of differentially expressed miRNAs among differentially expressed hepatic genes reported previously in dairy cows in SNEB computational target identification was employed.

Results

Our results indicate that the dairy cow liver expresses 53 miRNAs at a lower threshold of 10 reads per million. Of these, 10 miRNAs accounted for greater than 95% of the miRNAome (miRNA content). Of the highly expressed miRNAs, miR-122 constitutes 75% followed by miR-192 and miR-3596. Five out of thirteen let-7 miRNA family members are also among the highly expressed miRNAs. miR-143, down-regulated in SNEB, was found to have 4 putative up-regulated gene targets associated with SNEB including LRP2 (low density lipoprotein receptor-related protein 2), involved in lipid metabolism and up-regulated in SNEB.

Conclusions

This is the first liver miRNA-seq profiling study of moderate yielding dairy cows in the early postpartum period. Tissue specific miR-122 and liver enriched miR-192 are two of the most abundant miRNAs in the postpartum dairy cow liver. miR-143 is significantly down-regulated in SNEB and putative targets of miRNA-143 which are up-regulated in SNEB, include a gene involved in lipid metabolism.

Keywords:
micro RNA; RNA-seq; Liver; Negative energy balance; Nutrition; Dairy cattle