We mapped global changes in miRNA and mRNA profiles spanning the first wave of spermatogenesis using prepubertal (Postnatal Day 8 [P8]), pubertal (P16), and adolescent (P24) Mus musculus testes and identified the differential expression of 67 miRNAs and 8226 mRNAs. These two data sets were integrated into miRNA-dependent regulatory networks based on miRWalk predictions. In a network representing the P8 to P16 transition, downregulation of four miRNAs and upregulation of 19 miRNAs were linked with 81 upregulated target mRNAs and 228 downregulated target mRNAs, respectively. Furthermore, during the P16 to P24 transition, two miRNAs were downregulated, and eight miRNAs were upregulated, which linked with 64 upregulated mRNAs and 389 downregulated mRNAs, respectively. Only three of the miRNAs present in the network (miR-34b-5p, miR-34c, and miR-449a) showed a progressive increase from P8 through P16 to P24, while the remaining miRNAs in the network showed statistically significant changes in their levels either during the P8 to P16 transition or during the P16 to P24 transition. Analysis of the chromosomal location of these differentially expressed miRNAs showed that 14 out of 25 miRNAs upregulated from P8 to P16, and 18 out of 40 miRNAs upregulated from P8 to P24 were X-linked. This is suggestive of their escape from meiotic sex chromosome inactivation and postmeiotic sex chromatin. This integrated network of miRNA-level and mRNA-level changes in mouse testis during the first wave of spermatogenesis is expected to build a base for evaluating the role of miRNA-mediated gene expression regulation in maturing mammalian testis.
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Vol. 91 • No. 3