Dogs with X-linked hereditary nephropathy (XLHN) are an animal model for Alport syndrome in humans and progressive chronic kidney disease (CKD). Using mRNA sequencing (mRNA-seq), we have characterized the gene expression profile affecting the progression of XLHN; however, the microRNA (miRNA, miR) expression remains unknown. With small RNA-seq and quantitative RT-PCR (qRT-PCR), we used 3 small RNA-seq analysis tools (QIAGEN OmicSoft Studio, miRDeep2, and CPSS 2.0) to profile differentially expressed renal miRNAs, top-ranked miRNA target genes, and enriched biological processes and pathways in CKD progression.
Twenty-three kidney biopsies were collected from 5 dogs with XLHN and 4 age-matched, unaffected littermates at 3 clinical time points (T1: onset of proteinuria, T2: onset of azotemia, and T3: advanced azotemia). We identified up to 23 differentially expressed miRNAs at each clinical time point. Five miRNAs (miR-21, miR-146b, miR-802, miR-142, miR-147) were consistently upregulated in affected dogs. We identified miR-186 and miR-26b as effective reference miRNAs for qRT-PCR. This study applied small RNA-seq to identify differentially expressed miRNAs that might regulate critical pathways contributing to CKD progression in dogs with XLHN.