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Neuroscience. 2016 Jan 15;312:130-40. doi: 10.1016/j.neuroscience.2015.11.019. Epub 2015 Nov 17.

MicroRNA expression is altered in lateral septum across reproductive stages.

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Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA.
Department of Zoology, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA; Neuroscience Training Program, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI, USA. Electronic address:


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) inhibit RNA targets and may contribute to postpartum central nervous system (CNS) gene expression changes, although this has never been tested. In the present study, we directly evaluated miRNA levels using RNA sequencing during reproduction in female mice in the lateral septum (LS). We found the reliable and robust changes of miRNAs away from the virgin stage at the three other stages, namely pregnant, day 1 postpartum, and day 8 postpartum. For a given miRNA that was significantly different from the virgin condition in more than one group, the direction of change was always the same. Overall, we identified 32 upregulated miRNAs and 25 downregulated miRNAs that were consistently different from the virgin state. 'Arm switching' occurs for miR-433-3 and miR-7b. Unexpectedly, a third of upregulated miRNAs (relative to virgin) were highly localized within the 12qF1 region of chromosome 12 that includes the Dlk1-Dio3 gene cluster implicated in stem cell and neuronal differentiation. Over 1500 genes were targeted by multiple upregulated miRNAs with about 100 genes targeted by five or more miRNAs. Over 1000 genes were targeted by multiple downregulated miRNAs with about 50 genes targeted by five or more miRNAs. Half of the target genes were regulated by up and downregulated miRNAs, indicating homeostatic regulation. Transcriptional regulation was the most enriched pathway for genes linked to up or down regulated miRNAs. Other enriched pathways included protein kinase activity (e.g., MAP kinase), CNS development, axon guidance, neurotrophin signaling, neuron development/differentiation, and neurogenesis. Previously published postpartum LS gene expression changes were enrichment for LS miRNA targets, as expected. Surprisingly, postpartum gene expression changes from other regions were also enriched against LS miRNA targets, suggesting a core group of miRNAs may act across the CNS during reproduction. Together, we directly examine miRNAs and find significant alterations in the postpartum brain.


14q32; Dlk1-Dio3; lateral septum; maternal; microRNA; postpartum

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