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Characterization of microglial transcriptomes in the brain and spinal cord of mice in early and late experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis using a RiboTag strategy

Acharjee, S;Gordon, PMK;Lee, BH;Read, J;Workentine, ML;Sharkey, KA;Pittman, QJ;

Microglia play an important role in the pathogenesis of multiple sclerosis and the mouse model of MS, experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE). To more fully understand the role of microglia in EAE we characterized microglial transcriptomes before the onset of motor symptoms (pre-onset) and during symptomatic EAE. We compared the transcriptome in brain, where behavioral changes are initiated, and spinal cord, where damage is revealed as motor and sensory deficits. We used a RiboTag strategy to characterize ribosome-bound mRNA only in microglia without incurring possible transcriptional changes after cell isolation. Brain and spinal cord samples clustered separately at both stages of EAE, indicating regional heterogeneity. Differences in gene expression were observed in the brain and spinal cord of pre-onset and symptomatic animals with most profound effects in the spinal cord of symptomatic animals. Canonical pathway analysis revealed changes in neuroinflammatory pathways, immune functions and enhanced cell division in both pre-onset and symptomatic brain and spinal cord. We also observed a continuum of many pathways at pre-onset stage that continue into the symptomatic stage of EAE. Our results provide additional evidence of regional and temporal heterogeneity in microglial gene expression patterns that may help in understanding mechanisms underlying various symptomology in MS.