Background Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is a multisystemic autoimmune disease with various clinical manifestations. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and immunometabolism are recognized as key elements in SLE pathogenesis; however, the relationship between miRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) and metabolism in SLE remains unclear.
Methods We detected PBMC miRNA and mRNA profiles from 3 pooled SLE patients and 3 healthy controls (HCs) using next-generation sequencing, predicted miRNA targets in dysregulated mRNAs, predicted functions and interactions of differentially expressed genes using bioinformatics analysis, validated candidate miRNAs using qRT-PCR, and investigated the association between the expression of candidate miRNAs and SLE clinical characteristics. Moreover, we validated the direct and transcriptional regulatory effect of NovelmiRNA-25 on adenosine monophosphate deaminase 2 (AMPD2) using a dual-luciferase reporter assay and western blot and confirmed AMPD2 mRNA and protein expression in PBMCs using qRT-PCR and western blot, respectively.
Results Multilayer integrative analysis of microRNA and mRNA regulation showed that 10 miRNAs were down-regulated and 19 miRNAs were up-regulated in SLE patient PBMCs compared with HCs. Bioinformatics analysis of regulatory networks between miRNAs and mRNAs showed that 19 miRNAs were related to metabolic processes. Two candidate miRNAs, NovelmiRNA-25 and miR-1273h-5p, which were significantly increased in the PBMCs of SLE patients (p<0.05), represented diagnostic biomarkers with sensitivities of 94.74% and 89.47%, respectively (area under the curve=0.574 and 0.788, respectively). NovelmiRNA-25 expression in PBMCs was associated with disease activity in SLE patients, in both active and stable groups (p<0.05). NovelmiRNA-25 overexpression downregulated AMPD2 expression in HEK293T cells through direct targeting of the AMPD2 3'UTR (p<0.01), while inhibition of NovelmiRNA-25 activity led to increased AMPD2 expression (p<0.01). NovelmiRNA-25 overexpression also downregulated AMPD2 protein expression in HEK293T cells; AMPD2 protein expression in SLE patient PBMCs was decreased. Our results show that differentially expressed miRNAs play an important role in SLE.
Conclusions Our data demonstrate a novel mechanism in SLE development that involves the targeting of AMPD2 expression by NovelmiRNA-25. miRNAs may serve as novel biomarkers for the diagnosis and evaluation of disease activity of SLE and represent potential therapeutic targets for this disease.
Funding Source(s): Zhejiang Science and Technology Bureau (No.2012C33126 and 2016 C33214), the National Key Research and Development Program of China (No.2016YFC0903902)
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