Transcription Analysis of the Myometrium of Labouring and Non-Labouring Women

Gemma C Sharp, Lawrence Hutchinson, Nannette Hibbert, Tom Freeman, Philippa Saunders, Jane Norman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

32 Citations (Scopus)
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An incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms that initiate normal human labour at term seriously hampers the development of effective ways to predict, prevent and treat disorders such as preterm labour. Appropriate analysis of large microarray experiments that compare gene expression in non-labouring and labouring gestational tissues is necessary to help bridge these gaps in our knowledge. In this work, gene expression in 48 (22 labouring, 26 non-labouring) lower-segment myometrial samples collected at Caesarean section were analysed using Illumina HT-12 v4.0 BeadChips. Normalised data were compared between labouring and non-labouring groups using traditional statistical methods and a novel network graph approach. We sought technical validation with quantitative real-time PCR, and biological replication through inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis with published microarray data. We have extended the list of genes suggested to be associated with labour: Compared to non-labouring samples, labouring samples showed apparent higher expression at 960 probes (949 genes) and apparent lower expression at 801 probes (789 genes) (absolute fold change ≥1.2, rank product percentage of false positive value (RP-PFP) <0.05). Although half of the women in the labouring group had received pharmaceutical treatment to induce or augment labour, sensitivity analysis suggested that this did not confound our results. In agreement with previous studies, functional analysis suggested that labour was characterised by an increase in the expression of inflammatory genes and network analysis suggested a strong neutrophil signature. Our analysis also suggested that labour is characterised by a decrease in the expression of muscle-specific processes, which has not been explicitly discussed previously. We validated these findings through the first formal meta-analysis of raw data from previous experiments and we hypothesise that this represents a change in the composition of myometrial tissue at labour. Further work will be necessary to reveal whether these results are solely due to leukocyte infiltration into the myometrium as a mechanism initiating labour, or in addition whether they also represent gene changes in the myocytes themselves. We have made all our data available at (accession number E-MTAB-3136) to facilitate progression of this work.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere0155413
Number of pages21
JournalPLoS ONE
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 13 May 2016


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