Competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) and application of their regulatory networks in complex traits and diseases of ruminants

Farzad Ghafouri, Vahid Dehghanian Reyhan, Mostafa Sadeghi, Seyed Reza Miraei-Ashtiani, John P. Kastelic, Herman W. Barkema, Masoud Shirali

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This manuscript summarizes information on the diverse range of RNA molecules and their role as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs). Moreover, it provides an overview of ceRNA regulatory networks and their applications in ruminant biology. Knowledge of co-expression networks has increased with microarrays, RNA-seq, and scRNA-seq characterizing molecular mediators across various biological scales, using sequences from numerous blood and tissue samples. By synthesizing existing knowledge, this study summarizes interactions between coding and non-coding RNAs through microRNA response elements (MREs), elucidating large-scale regulatory networks throughout the transcriptome that influence the expression and activities of various ceRNAs. Identification of non-coding RNAs with important regulatory functions will revolutionize understanding of RNA biology, shifting from an mRNA-centric model to a complex network of RNA crosstalk. The ceRNA networks offer a more comprehensive and arguably more realistic perspective compared to protein–protein interaction (PPI) networks and weighted gene co-expression networks (WGCN). These ceRNA regulatory networks can describe potential molecular regulatory mechanisms related to functional and economically important traits in ruminants, plus contribute to disease and pathology research, by elucidating pathogenesis and potential drug effects in disease and cancer models. Furthermore, they can provide insights into farm animal biology, e.g., reproductive traits in goats and sheep, regulation of fat metabolism in beef cattle, heat stress responses, and lactation regulation in dairy cattle, fertility and muscle characteristics in buffalo, and resistance to high-salt and water-deprivation conditions in camels. In conclusion, ceRNA and associated regulatory networks should promote a new understanding of molecular mechanisms and identify candidate genes and metabolic-signaling pathways in ruminants.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)165-181
Issue number2
Early online date01 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - Jun 2024


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