Genes & Genomics

, Volume 41, Issue 7, pp 757–766 | Cite as

Deep sequencing reveals microRNA signature is altered in the rat epididymis following bilateral castration

  • Yan Li
  • Haiyan Wang
  • Yangmei Qin
  • Juan Liu
  • Ning Li
  • Zhiliang JiEmail author
  • Jianyuan LiEmail author
Research Article



In the epididymis of bilateral castrated male rat, gene expression profile changed significantly. However, up to date, no study has investigated how these genes were regulated by microRNAs (miRNAs).


We investigated the alterations in the miRNA signature of the epididymis from sham-operated and bilaterally castrated rats.


By employing deep sequencing technology and qPCR, the global alterations of epididymal miRNA signature between sham-operated (Con-EP library) and bilaterally castrated rats (Cas-EP library) were explored. MiRNA-target interaction networks were annotated by GO and KEGG enrichment.


We identified 313 and 306 known miRNAs as well as 152 and 114 novel miRNAs in the Con-EP and Cas-EP libraries, respectively. 59 miRNAs were differentially expressed, including 24 up-regulated and 35 down-regulated miRNAs, among which two up-regulated and three down-regulated ones were validated using qPCR. The expression of these miRNAs in the epididymides of rats at different postnatal ages showed regular changes from birth to adult, suggesting they were androgen-regulated. GO analysis showed that many of the miRNA targets were enriched in metabolic processes. KEGG analysis demonstrated that the targets mainly participated in the mitogen-activated protein kinase (MAPK) pathway. Moreover, 3 and 6 functional modules were detected among the up- and down-regulated miRNA target interaction networks, respectively, and these modules were involved in various biological processes.


This study represents the first systematic investigation of alterations in the miRNA signature of the epididymis from bilaterally castrated rats and will provide useful resources for functional studies of the miRNAs in the male reproductive system.


Rat Epididymis Bilateral castration MicroRNA Male reproductive system Deep sequencing 



This research was financially supported by Shandong Provincial Natural Science Foundation of China Grant no. ZR2018LH001, the Grant from the National Natural Science Foundation of China, Young Scientists Fund (Grant no. 81701453).

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

Ethical approval

Protocols for the use of animals in these experiments were approved by the Research Animal Care and Use Committee of Yantai University and were carried out in strict accordance with the standards set forth by the Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) for the care and use of animals. Ethical approval was obtained prior to initiation of the research work carried out on animals. All efforts were made to minimize suffering.

Supplementary material

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Copyright information

© The Genetics Society of Korea 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.College of Life ScienceYantai UniversityYantaiChina
  2. 2.Central LaboratoryYantai Yu-Huang-Ding HospitalYantaiChina
  3. 3.State Key Laboratory of Cellular Stress Biology, School of Life SciencesXiamen UniversityXiamenChina
  4. 4.Research Institute for Family Planning, Key Laboratory of Male Reproductive HealthNational Health and Family Planning CommissionBeijingChina

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