Revealing the action mechanisms of dexamethasone on the birth weight of infant using RNA-sequencing data of trophoblast cells

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Abstract

Dexamethasone (DEX) could induce low birth weight of infant, and low birth weight has close associations with glucocorticoid levels, insulin resistance, hypertension, and metabolic syndrome in adulthood. This study was designed to reveal the action mechanisms of DEX on the birth weight of infant.

Using quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR), trophoblast cells of human placenta were identified and the optimum treatment time of DEX were determined. Trophoblast cells were treated by DEX (DEX group) or ethanol (control group) (each group had 3 samples), and then were performed with RNA-sequencing. Afterward, the differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were identified by R package, and their potential functions were successively enriched using DAVID database and Enrichr method. Followed by protein–protein interaction (PPI) network was constructed using Cytoscape software. Using Enrichr method and TargetScan software, the transcription factors (TFs) and micorRNAs (miRNAs) targeted the DEGs separately were predicted. Based on MsigDB database, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA) was performed.

There were 391 DEGs screened from the DEX group. Upregulated SRR and potassium voltage-gated channel subfamily J member 4 (KCNJ4) and downregulated GALNT1 separately were enriched in PDZ (an acronym of PSD-95, Dlg, and ZO-1) domain binding and Mucin type O-glycan biosynthesis. In the PPI network, CDK2 and CDK4 had higher degrees. TFs ATF2 and E2F4 and miRNA miR-16 were predicted for the DEGs. Moreover, qRT-PCR analysis confirmed that SRR and KCNJ4 were significantly upregulated.

These genes might affect the roles of DEX in the birth weight of infant, and might be promising therapeutic targets for reducing the side effects of DEX.

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