Circular RNA expression profile in the spinal cord of morphine tolerated rats and screen of putative key circRNAs

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Morphine tolerance developed after repeated or continuous morphine treatment is a global health concern hindering the control of chronic pain. In our previous research, we have reported that the expression of lncRNAs and microRNAs have been greatly modified in the spinal cord of morphine tolerated rats, and the modulating role of miR-873a-5p, miR-219-5p and miR-365 have already been confirmed. However, whether circular RNAs, another essential kind of non-coding RNA, are involved in the pathogenesis of morphine tolerance is still beyond our knowledge. In this study, we conducted microarray analysis for circRNA profile and found a large number of circRNAs changed greatly in the spinal cord by morphine treatment. Among them, we selected nine circRNAs for validation, and seven circRNAs are confirmed. Gene Ontology/Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (GO/KEGG) analysis were used for functional annotation. Besides, we confirmed the modified expression of seven circRNAs after validation by real-Time PCR, selected 3 most prominently modulated ones among them and predicted their downstream miRNA-mRNA network and analyzed their putative function via circRNA-miRNA-mRNA pathway. Finally, we enrolled the differentially expressed mRNAs derived from the identical spinal cord, these validated circRNAs and their putative miRNA targets for ceRNA analysis and screened a promising circRNA-miRNA-mRNA pathway in the development of morphine tolerance. This study, for the first time, provided valuable information on circRNA profile and gave clues for further study on the circRNA mechanism of morphine tolerance.

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Weng, Y., Wu, J., Li, L., Shao, J., Li, Z., Deng, M., & Zou, W. (2019). Circular RNA expression profile in the spinal cord of morphine tolerated rats and screen of putative key circRNAs. Molecular Brain, 12(1).

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