Extremely Complex Populations of Small RNAs in the Mouse Retina and RPE/Choroid

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Purpose: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs of ~18-22 nucleotides in length that regulate gene expression. They are widely expressed in the retina, being both required for its normal development and perturbed in disease. The aim of this study was to apply new high-throughput sequencing techniques to more fully characterise the microRNAs and other small RNAs expressed in the retina and retinal pigment epithelium (RPE)/choroid of the mouse.

Methods: Retina and RPE/choroid were dissected from eyes of 3 month-old C57BL/6J mice. Small RNA libraries were prepared and deep sequencing performed on a Genome Analyzer (Illumina). Reads were annotated by alignment to miRBase, other non-coding RNA databases and the mouse genome.

Results: Annotation of 9 million reads to 320 microRNAs in retina and 340 in RPE/choroid provides the most comprehensive profiling of microRNAs to date. Two novel microRNAs were identified in retina. Members of the sensory organ specific miR-183,-182,-96 cluster were amongst the most highly expressed, retina-enriched microRNAs. Remarkably, microRNA 'isomiRs', which vary slightly in length and are differentially detected by Taqman RT-PCR assays, existed for all the microRNAs identified in both tissues. More variation occurred at the 3' ends, including non-templated additions of T and A. Drosha-independent mirtron microRNAs and other small RNAs derived from snoRNAs were also detected.

Conclusions: Deep sequencing has revealed the complexity of small RNA expression in the mouse retina and RPE/choroid. This knowledge will improve the design and interpretation of future functional studies of the role of microRNAs and other small RNAs in retinal disease.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)8140-8151
Number of pages12
JournalInvestigative ophthalmology & visual science
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013


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