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Overexpression Of hsa-miR-664a-3p Is Associated With Cigarette Smoke-Induced Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Via Targeting FHL1

Authors Zhong S, Chen C, Liu N, Yang L, Hu Z, Duan P, Shuai D, Zhang Q, Wang Y

Received 25 July 2019

Accepted for publication 12 September 2019

Published 9 October 2019 Volume 2019:14 Pages 2319—2329


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 3

Editor who approved publication: Prof. Dr. Chunxue Bai

Shan Zhong,1,2 Chengshui Chen,3 Naijia Liu,2 Li Yang,3 Zhangli Hu,2 Pengfei Duan,1 Diquan Shuai,2 Qingying Zhang,1 Yun Wang2

1Department of Preventive Medicine, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong 515041, People’s Republic of China; 2Center for Research and Technology of Precision Medicine, College of Life Sciences and Oceanography, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055, People’s Republic of China; 3Department of Respiratory, The First Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Wenzhou, Zhejiang 325000, People’s Republic of China

Correspondence: Yun Wang
Center for Research and Technology of Precision Medicine, College of Life Sciences and Oceanography, Shenzhen University (Xili Campus), No. 1066, Xueyuan Ave, Nanshan Distract, Shenzhen, Guangdong 518055, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 755 2695 8895
Fax +86 755 2653 4274

Qingying Zhang
Department of Preventive Medicine, Shantou University Medical College, Shantou, Guangdong 515041, People’s Republic of China
Tel +86 754 8825 9850
Fax +86 754 8856 6774

Background: Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) is recognized as a chronic lung disease with incomplete reversible airflow limitation, but its pathophysiology was still not clear. This study aimed at investigating regulatory roles of special miRNA–mRNA axis in COPD development.
Methods: Differentially expressed miRNAs and downstream mRNAs were screened from the Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) dataset by using the LIMMA package in R software. Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis (WGCNA) was used to construct a co-expression network for COPD. The correlation of dysregulated miRNA(s) and COPD was analyzed, and miRNAs with significant differences were validated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from COPD patients by real-time PCR. Regulatory roles of candidate miRNAs and targeted mRNAs were investigated in vitro study.
Results: Thirteen modules of co-expressed miRNAs and mRNAs were constructed from a selected cohort with WGCNA. Turquoise module with 12 differentially expressed miRNAs and 120 mRNAs was significantly correlated with COPD. The expression of hsa-miR-664a-3p, an upregulated miRNA in the module, was increased both in lung tissue and PBMCs from COPD patients, whereas that targeted four and a half LIM domains 1 (FHL1) gene was decreased and positively correlated with forced expiratory volume in 1 sec (FEV1)/forced vital capacity (FVC%) (r = 0.59, p < 0.01). In vitro, luciferase activity assay revealed FHL1 as a target of hsa-miR-664a-3p and it could be directly downregulated by overexpression of hsa-miR-664a-3p. Furthermore, cigarette smoke extract could increase hsa-miR-664a-3p level and decrease FHL1 level in Beas-2B cells.
Conclusion: The present study validated significant upregulation of hsa-miR-664a-3p in COPD patients, and its target gene FHL1 was downregulated and positively correlated with FEV1/FVC%; both hsa-miR-664a-3p and FHL1 could be regulated by cigarette smoke extract. Results of bioinformatic analyses and expanded validation suggest that the axis from hsa-miR-664a-3p to FHL1 might play a key role in cigarette smoke-induced COPD, and the exact mechanism should be confirmed in further studies.

Keywords: COPD, miRNA, mRNA, co-expression networks, biomarker

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