In cystic fibrosis (CF), impaired immune cell responses, driven by the dysfunctional CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, may determine the disease severity but clinical heterogeneity remains a major therapeutic challenge. The characterization of molecular mechanisms underlying impaired immune responses in CF may reveal novel targets with therapeutic potential. Therefore, we utilized simultaneous RNA sequencing targeted at identifying differentially expressed genes, transcripts, and miRNAs that characterize impaired immune responses triggered by CF and its phenotypes.
Peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) extracted from a healthy donor were stimulated with plasma from CF patients (n = 9) and healthy controls (n = 3). The PBMCs were cultured (1 × 105 cells/well) for 9 h at 37 ° C in 5% CO2. After culture, total RNA was extracted from each sample and used for simultaneous total RNA and miRNA sequencing.
Analysis of expression signatures from peripheral blood mononuclear cells induced by plasma of CF patients and healthy controls identified 151 genes, 154 individual transcripts, and 41 miRNAs differentially expressed in CF compared to HC while the expression signatures of 285 genes, 241 individual transcripts, and seven miRNAs differed due to CF phenotypes. Top immune pathways influenced by CF included agranulocyte adhesion, diapedesis signaling, and IL17 signaling, while those influenced by CF phenotypes included natural killer cell signaling and PI3K signaling in B lymphocytes. Upstream regulator analysis indicated dysregulation of CCL5, NF-κB and IL1A due to CF while dysregulation of TREM1 and TP53 regulators were associated with CF phenotype. Five miRNAs showed inverse expression patterns with three target genes relevant in CF-associated impaired immune pathways while two miRNAs showed inverse expression patterns with two target genes relevant to a dysregulated immune pathway associated with CF phenotypes.
Our results indicate that miRNAs and individual transcript variants are relevant molecular targets contributing to impaired immune cell responses in CF.
Features RiboCop rRNA Depletion Kit V1.2 (Human/Mouse/Rat) and SENSE Total RNA-Seq Library Prep Kit