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Comparative miRNA Expression Profiles in Individuals with Latent and Active Tuberculosis

Public Library of Science
Publication Date
DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0025832
  • Research Article
  • Biology
  • Genomics
  • Comparative Genomics
  • Genome Expression Analysis
  • Microbiology
  • Host-Pathogen Interaction
  • Molecular Cell Biology
  • Gene Expression
  • Rna Interference
  • Medicine
  • Infectious Diseases
  • Bacterial Diseases
  • Mycobacterium
  • Tuberculosis
  • Biology
  • Medicine


The mechanism of latent tuberculosis (TB) infection remains elusive. Several host factors that are involved in this complex process were previously identified. Micro RNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous ∼22 nt RNAs that play important regulatory roles in a wide range of biological processes. Several studies demonstrated the clinical usefulness of miRNAs as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers in various malignancies and in a few nonmalignant diseases. To study the role of miRNAs in the transition from latent to active TB and to discover candidate biomarkers of this transition, we used human miRNA microarrays to probe the transcriptome of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) in patients with active TB, latent TB infection (LTBI), and healthy controls. Using the software package BRB Array Tools for data analyses, 17 miRNAs were differentially expressed between the three groups (P<0.01). Hierarchical clustering of the 17 miRNAs expression profiles showed that individuals with active TB clustered independently of individuals with LTBI or from healthy controls. Using the predicted target genes and previously published genome-wide transcriptional profiles, we constructed the regulatory networks of miRNAs that were differentially expressed between active TB and LTBI. The regulatory network revealed that several miRNAs, with previously established functions in hematopoietic cell differentiation and their target genes may be involved in the transition from latent to active TB. These results increase the understanding of the molecular basis of LTBI and confirm that some miRNAs may control gene expression of pathways that are important for the pathogenesis of this infectious disease.

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