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Key Genes in Olfactory Disorder in Experimental Autoimmune Encephalomyelitis Identified by Transcriptomic Analysis of the Olfactory Bulbs

Hong, S;Kim, J;Ahn, M;Jung, K;Moon, C;Ahn, C;Sanchez-Quinteiro, P;Shin, T;

Experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE) is an animal model of multiple sclerosis that shows demyelination in the central nervous system and functional deficits, including olfactory impairment. However, the genes related to olfactory impairment in EAE are unknown. We evaluated hub genes of the olfactory bulb in EAE mice. Differentially expressed genes (cut-offs, fold change > 2 and adjusted p < 0.05) and their related pathways in olfactory bulbs were subjected to gene ontology (GO) pathway analysis, gene set enrichment analysis (GSEA). Protein-protein interactions with selected genes were evaluated using the Search Tool for the Retrieval of Interacting Genes/Proteins. Gene regulatory networks (GRNs) which were constructed at the post-transcriptional level, including the genes-transcription factors (TFs) and gene-microRNAs (miRNAs) interaction networks. Twelve hub genes were found, three of which (Ctss, Itgb2, and Tlr2) were validated by RT-qPCR to be related to GO pathways such as immune response and regulation of immune response. GSEA showed that neuron-related genes-including Atp6v1g2, Egr1, and Gap43-and their pathways were significantly downregulated. GRNs analysis of six genes (Ctss, Itgb2, Tlr2, Atp6v1g2, Egr1, and Gap43) revealed 37 TFs and 84 miRNAs were identified as potential regulators of six genes, indicating significant interaction among six genes, TFs, and miRNAs. Collectively, these results suggest that transcriptomic analysis of the olfactory bulb of EAE mice can provide insight into olfactory dysfunction and reveal therapeutic targets for olfactory impairment.