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BioMed Research International
Volume 2017 (2017), Article ID 1857580, 11 pages
Research Article

Integrating miRNA and mRNA Expression Profiling Uncovers miRNAs Underlying Fat Deposition in Sheep

1College of Animal Science and Technology, Northwest A&F University, Yangling, China
2Lanzhou Institute of Husbandry and Pharmaceutical Sciences of CAAS, Lanzhou, China
3College of Biology Sciences and Engineering, Beifang University of Nationalities, Yinchuan, Ningxia 750021, China
4Qinghai Academy of Animal Science and Veterinary Medicine, Xining, China
5College of Pharmacy, Yancheng Teachers University, Yancheng, China

Correspondence should be addressed to Yulin Chen

Received 21 August 2016; Revised 5 December 2016; Accepted 15 December 2016; Published 15 February 2017

Academic Editor: Gang Liu

Copyright © 2017 Guangxian Zhou et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, noncoding RNAs that regulate various biological processes including adipogenesis and fat metabolism. Here, we adopted a deep sequencing approach to determine the identity and abundance of miRNAs involved in fat deposition in adipose tissues from fat-tailed (Kazakhstan sheep, KS) and thin-tailed (Tibetan sheep, TS) sheep breeds. By comparing HiSeq data of these two breeds, 539 miRNAs were shared in both breeds, whereas 179 and 97 miRNAs were uniquely expressed in KS and TS, respectively. We also identified 35 miRNAs that are considered to be putative novel miRNAs. The integration of miRNA-mRNA analysis revealed that miRNA-associated targets were mainly involved in the gene ontology (GO) biological processes concerning cellular process and metabolic process, and miRNAs play critical roles in fat deposition through their ability to regulate fundamental pathways. These pathways included the MAPK signaling pathway, FoxO and Wnt signaling pathway, and focal adhesion. Taken together, our results define miRNA expression signatures that may contribute to fat deposition and lipid metabolism in sheep.