Characterization of long non-coding rna profiles in porcine granulosa cells of healthy and atretic antral follicles : Implications for a potential role in apoptosis

Meng, Li; Zhao, Kun; Wang, Chi Chiu; Tao, Jian; Wu, Zhenfang; Teerds, Katja; Zhang, Shouquan


Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) play important roles in multiple biological processes including ovarian follicular development. Here we aimed to gain novel information regarding lncRNAs transcriptome profiles in porcine granulosa cells of advanced atretic antral (AA) and healthy antral (HA) follicles using RNA-seq. A total of 11,321 lncRNAs including 10,813 novel and 508 annotated lncRNAs were identified, of which 173 lncRNAs were differentially expressed (DE-lncRNAs); ten of these were confirmed by qRT-PCR. Gene Ontology indicated that DE-lncRNAs associated with developmental processes were highly enriched. Pathway analysis demonstrated predicted cis-and trans-targets of DE-lncRNAs. Potential mRNA targets of up-regulated DE-lncRNAs were mainly enriched in apoptosis related pathways, while targeted genes of downregu-lated DE-lncRNAs were primarily enriched in metabolism and ovarian steroidogenesis pathways. Linear regression analyses showed that expression of upregulated DE-lncRNAs was significantly associated with apoptosis related genes. NOVEL_00001850 is the most-downregulated DE-lncRNA (FDR=0.04, FC=-6.53), of which miRNA binding sites were predicted. KEGG analysis of its down-regulated target genes revealed that ovarian steroidogenesis was the second most highlighted path-way. qRT-PCR and linear regression analysis confirmed the expression and correlation of its potential targeted gene, CYP19A1, a key gene involved in estradiol synthesis. Our results indicate that lncRNAs may participate in granulosa cells apoptosis and thus antral follicular atresia.