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Nat Methods. 2018 Apr;15(4):283-289. doi: 10.1038/nmeth.4610. Epub 2018 Feb 26.

Cell-type specific sequencing of microRNAs from complex animal tissues.

Author information

1
Research Institute of Molecular Pathology (IMP), Vienna Biocenter Campus (VBC), Vienna, Austria.
2
Institute of Molecular Biotechnology (IMBA), Vienna Biocenter Campus (VBC), Vienna, Austria.

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play an essential role in the post-transcriptional regulation of animal development and physiology. However, in vivo studies aimed at linking miRNA function to the biology of distinct cell types within complex tissues remain challenging, partly because in vivo miRNA-profiling methods lack cellular resolution. We report microRNome by methylation-dependent sequencing (mime-seq), an in vivo enzymatic small-RNA-tagging approach that enables high-throughput sequencing of tissue- and cell-type-specific miRNAs in animals. The method combines cell-type-specific 3'-terminal 2'-O-methylation of animal miRNAs by a genetically encoded, plant-specific methyltransferase (HEN1), with chemoselective small-RNA cloning and high-throughput sequencing. We show that mime-seq uncovers the miRNomes of specific cells within Caenorhabditis elegans and Drosophila at unprecedented specificity and sensitivity, enabling miRNA profiling with single-cell resolution in whole animals. Mime-seq overcomes current challenges in cell-type-specific small-RNA profiling and provides novel entry points for understanding the function of miRNAs in spatially restricted physiological settings.

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