Research Resource: Small RNA-seq of Human Granulosa Cells Reveals miRNAs in FSHR and Aromatase Genes

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Abstract

The granulosa cells in the mammalian ovarian follicle respond to gonadotropin signaling and are involved in the processes of folliculogenesis and oocyte maturation. Studies on gene expression and regulation in human granulosa cells are of interest due to their potential for estimating the oocyte viability and in vitro fertilization success. However, the posttranscriptional gene expression studies on micro-RNA (miRNA) level in the human ovary have been scarce. The current study determined the miRNA profile by deep sequencing of the 2 intrafollicular somatic cell types: mural and cumulus granulosa cells (MGCs and CGCs, respectively) isolated from women undergoing controlled ovarian stimulation and in vitro fertilization. Altogether, 936 annotated and 9 novel miRNAs were identified. Ninety of the annotated miRNAs were differentially expressed between MGCs and CGCs. Bioinformatic prediction revealed that TGFβ, ErbB signaling, and heparan sulfate biosynthesis were targeted by miRNAs in both granulosa cell populations, whereas extracellular matrix remodeling, Wnt, and neurotrophin signaling pathways were enriched among miRNA targets in MGCs. Two of the nine novel miRNAs found were of intronic origin: one from the aromatase and the other from the FSH receptor gene. The latter miRNA was predicted to target the activin signaling pathway. In addition to revealing the genome-wide miRNA signature in human granulosa cells, our results suggest that posttranscriptional regulation of gene expression by miRNAs could play an important role in the modification of gonadotropin signaling. miRNA expression studies could therefore lead to new prognostic markers in assisted reproductive technologies.

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