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Int J Mol Med. 2019 Oct;44(4):1243-1254. doi: 10.3892/ijmm.2019.4293. Epub 2019 Jul 30.

Characteristic genes in THP‑1 derived macrophages infected with Mycobacterium tuberculosis H37Rv strain identified by integrating bioinformatics methods.

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Department of Pathogen Biology, The Key Laboratory of Zoonosis, Chinese Ministry of Education, College of Basic Medicine, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin 130021, P.R. China.
School of Bethune Medical, Jilin University, Changchun, Jilin 130021, P.R. China.


Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M. tb) is a highly successful pathogen that has co‑existed with humans for 1,000's of years. As the cornerstone of the immune system, macrophages are a key part of innate immunity. They ingest and degrade foreign substances including aging cells and microorganisms, coordinate the inflammatory process, and are the first line of defense against M. tb infection. Recent advances in cellular mycobacteriology have indicated that M. tb uses an remarkably complex strategy to disrupt macrophage function, in order to counteract the antimicrobial mechanisms of the innate and adaptive immune responses, thereby achieving immune escape. With the popularity of microarray technology, a variety of public platforms have provided a variety of gene expression data associated with physiological and disease conditions. Meta‑analysis can systematically and quantitatively analyze multiple independent data concerning the same disease, greatly improving the statistical significance and credibility of the gene expression data analysis performed. In the present study, 6 microarray expression datasets of human acute monocytic leukemia THP‑1 cell line infected by M. tb H37Rv strain were collected from the GEO database. A total of 4 high‑quality datasets were identified using meta‑analysis methods in R language, and 306 differentially expressed genes with statistical significance were obtained. Then, a protein‑protein interaction (PPI) network of these differentially expressed genes was constructed on the Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins Database online tool and visualized by Cytoscape v. 3.6.1 software. Using CentiScape and MCODE plugin in the Cytoscape software to mine the functional modules associated with M. tb infection process, 32 characteristic genes were identified. Gene ontology and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes analysis was performed on the 32 characteristic genes, and it was demonstrated that these genes were primarily associated with the type I interferon (IFN) pathway. In the established model of THP‑1‑derived macrophages infected by M. tb, the actual differential expression levels of IFN‑stimulated gene 15 (ISG15), 2'‑5‑oligoadenylate synthetase like (OASL), IFN regulatory factor 7 (IRF7) and DExD/H‑box helicase 58 (DDX58), the first 4 genes of the 32 characteristic genes, were verified by reverse transcription quantitative polymerase chain reaction. The results were consistent with the results of microarray analysis. The association between ISG15, OASL and IRF7 and TB infection was also verified. Although a number of studies have identified that the type I IFN pathway may assist M. tb to achieve immune escape, the present study used a meta‑analysis of microarray data and PPI network analysis to examine some of the novel genes identified in the IFN pathway. The results furthered the understanding of the molecular mechanisms of the TB immune response and provided a novel perspective for future therapeutic goals.

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