A role for microRNAs in the epigenetic control of sexually dimorphic gene expression in the human placenta

Lauren Eaves, Preeyaphan Phookphan, Julia Rager, Jacqueline Bangma, Hudson P Santos Jr, Lisa Smeester, Thomas Michael O’Shea, Rebecca Fry

Epigenomics. 2020 Sep;12(17):1543-1558.

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Aim: The contribution of miRNAs as epigenetic regulators of sexually dimorphic gene expression in the placenta is unknown. Materials & methods: 382 placentas from the extremely low gestational age newborns (ELGAN) cohort were evaluated for expression levels of 37,268 mRNAs and 2,102 miRNAs using genome-wide RNA-sequencing. Results: Sexually dimorphic expression was observed for 128 mRNAs and 59 miRNAs. A set of 25 miRNA master regulators was identified that likely contribute to sexual dimorphic mRNA expression. Conclusion: These data highlight sex-dependent miRNA and mRNA patterning in the placenta and provide insight into a potential mechanism for observed sex differences in outcomes.