We conducted integrated transcriptomics network analyses of miRNA and mRNA interactions in human myometrium to identify novel molecular candidates potentially involved in human parturition. Myometrial biopsies were collected from women undergoing primary Cesarean deliveries in well-characterized clinical scenarios: (1) spontaneous term labor (TL, n = 5); (2) term nonlabor (TNL, n = 5); (3) spontaneous preterm birth (PTB) with histologic chorioamnionitis (PTB-HCA, n = 5); and (4) indicated PTB nonlabor (PTB-NL, n = 5). RNAs were profiled using RNA sequencing, and miRNA-target interaction networks were mined for key discriminatory subnetworks. Forty miRNAs differed between TL and TNL myometrium, while seven miRNAs differed between PTB-HCA vs. PTB-NL specimens; six of these were cross-validated using quantitative PCR. Based on the combined sequencing data, unsupervised clustering revealed two nonoverlapping cohorts that differed primarily by absence or presence of uterine quiescence, rather than gestational age or original clinical cohort. The intersection of differentially expressed miRNAs and their targets predicted 22 subnetworks with enriched representation of miR-146b-5p, miR-223-3p, and miR-150-5p among miRNAs, and of myocyte enhancer factor-2C (MEF2C) among mRNAs. Of four known MEF2 transcription factors, decreased MEF2A and MEF2C expression in women with uterine nonquiescence was observed in the sequencing data, and validated in a second cohort by quantitative PCR. Immunohistochemistry localized MEF2A and MEF2C to myometrial smooth muscle cells and confirmed decreased abundance with labor. Collectively, these results suggest altered MEF2 expression may represent a previously unrecognized process through which miRNAs contribute to the phenotypic switch from quiescence to labor in human myometrium.
Integrated miRNA–mRNA study in human myometrium.