MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small ∼22-nt regulatory RNAs that regulate the stability and translation of cognate mRNAs. MiRNAs participate in the regulation of adipogenesis, and identification of the full repertoire of miRNAs expressed in adipose tissue is likely to significantly increase our understanding of adipose tissue growth and development. Here, we adopted a deep sequencing approach to determine the identity and abundance of miRNAs in developing swine adipose tissue. Via this approach, we identified the sequences and relative expression levels of 227 conserved miRNAs (of which 59 were novel) and 66 potential porcine miRNAs. The expression levels displayed a large range, as reflected by the number of sequence reads, which varied from several counts for rare miRNAs to several million reads for the most abundant miRNAs. The abundant miRNAs principally belonged to 32 miRNA gene families, including miR-143, miR-103, let-7, and miR-148. Of the conserved miRNAs, 93 miRNAs were up-regulated and 33 miRNAs were down-regulated in the adult pig adipose tissue. Moreover, we observed sequence variants and seed edits of the miRNAs. KEGG pathway analysis and GO term enrichment suggested that highly expressed miRNAs are involved in adipose tissue development, signal transduction, cell–cell and cell–extracellular matrix communication, neural development and function, and lipid metabolism including carboxylic acid, oxoacid, fatty acid, steroid, glycerolipid, alcohol and phospholipid metabolism. Our results expand the number of known porcine miRNAs and provide a thorough account of the miRNA transcriptome in porcine adipose tissue. J. Cell. Biochem. 112: 1318–1328, 2011. © 2011 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
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