BMC genetics

Regulatory networks in retinal ischemia-reperfusion injury.

PMID 25902940


Retinal function is ordered by interactions between transcriptional and posttranscriptional regulators at the molecular level. These regulators include transcription factors (TFs) and posttranscriptional factors such as microRNAs (miRs). Some studies propose that miRs predominantly target the TFs rather than other types of protein coding genes and such studies suggest a possible interconnection of these two regulators in co-regulatory networks. Our lab has generated mRNA and miRNA microarray expression data to investigate time-dependent changes in gene expression, following induction of ischemia-reperfusion (IR) injury in the rat retina. Data from different reperfusion time points following retinal IR-injury were analyzed. Paired expression data for miRNA-target gene (TG), TF-TG, miRNA-TF were used to identify regulatory loop motifs whose expressions were altered by the IR injury paradigm. These loops were subsequently integrated into larger regulatory networks and biological functions were assayed. Systematic analyses of the networks have provided new insights into retinal gene regulation in the early and late periods of IR. We found both overlapping and unique patterns of molecular expression at the two time points. These patterns can be defined by their characteristic molecular motifs as well as their associated biological processes. We highlighted the regulatory elements of miRs and TFs associated with biological processes in the early and late phases of ischemia-reperfusion injury. The etiology of retinal ischemia-reperfusion injury is orchestrated by complex and still not well understood gene networks. This work represents the first large network analysis to integrate miRNA and mRNA expression profiles in context of retinal ischemia. It is likely that an appreciation of such regulatory networks will have prognostic potential. In addition, the computational framework described in this study can be used to construct miRNA-TF interactive systems networks for various diseases/disorders of the retina and other tissues.