MicroRNAs as potential serum biomarkers for neuromuscular disorders

Jovan Pešović, Serbia

Centre for Human Molecular Genetics, Faculty of Biology, University of Belgrade

From the 17th of October to the 20th of November I spent time in the Laboratory of RNA biology and Biotechnology, at the Centre for Integrative Biology, University of Trento, Italy using funding from the STSM program from COST BM1207. I was hosted by Professor Michela Alessandra Denti and worked with Dr. Margherita Grasso.

The goal of my STSM was to get experience in the field of microRNA (miRNA) studies. miRNAs are one of the major post-transcriptional regulators of eukaryotic gene expression and many of them are cell- and tissue-specific. The altered expression of muscle-specific miRNAs (myomirs) as well as their involvement in pathological pathways has been shown in skeletal muscles in several neuromuscular disorders (Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), myotonic dystrophy type 1 and type 2 (DM1 and DM2)). MicroRNAs have also been identified in biofluids as well preserved molecules in detectable and quantifiable level. This feature marks them as new potential non-invasive biomarkers for the disease diagnosis and prognosis and for prediction of the therapy response.

During my 5-week-long stay in Trento I was able to see and perform different techniques required for the miRNA research. I was trained in biobanking biological samples, particularly plasma and serum. Using commercially available kits we performed isolation of total cellular RNA including miRNA fraction. After RT PCR reaction, the obtained cDNA was used for miRNA profiling. The real time PCR reactions were performed on two commercial panels that provided information on the expression profiles of more than 700 human miRNA. All raw data were processed by specific software package that offers a variety of methods for statistical analysis as well.

I am very thankful for being able to spend time in the lab of Prof Denti where I enjoyed the warm welcome and hospitality. I have attended several lab meetings where I got a chance to discuss different topics and exchange ideas with many young researchers. I am certain that the acquired knowledge and experience will be very useful in the future projects, particularly in the miRNA research planned to be initiated in my lab. I hope that we’ll collaborate with Prof Denti and her team in future, who are well experienced in miRNAs research.

October 2015