Email updates

Keep up to date with the latest news and content from Cell & Bioscience and BioMed Central.

Open Access Open Badges Research

RNA-seq analysis of synovial fibroblasts brings new insights into rheumatoid arthritis

Daniel P Heruth1*, Margaret Gibson1, Dmitry N Grigoryev1, Li Qin Zhang1 and Shui Qing Ye12

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Pediatrics, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, University of Missouri School of Medicine, 2401 Gillham Road, Kansas City, MO, 64108, USA

2 Department of Biomedical and Health Informatics, Children's Mercy Hospitals and Clinics, University of Missouri School of Medicine, 2401 Gillham Road, Kansas City, MO, 64108, USA

For all author emails, please log on.

Cell & Bioscience 2012, 2:43  doi:10.1186/2045-3701-2-43

Published: 21 December 2012



Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune-disease of unknown origin that primarily affects the joints and ultimately leads to their destruction. Growing evidence suggests that synvovial fibroblasts play important roles in the initiation and the perpetuation of RA but underlying molecular mechanisms are not understood fully. In the present study, Illumina RNA sequencing was used to profile two human normal control and two rheumatoid arthritis synvovial fibroblasts (RASFs) transcriptomes to gain insights into the roles of synvovial fibroblasts in RA.


We found that besides known inflammatory and immune responses, other novel dysregulated networks and pathways such as Cell Morphology, Cell-To-Cell Signaling and Interaction, Cellular Movement, Cellular Growth and Proliferation, and Cellular Development, may all contribute to the pathogenesis of RA. Our study identified several new genes and isoforms not previously associated with rheumatoid arthritis. 122 genes were up-regulated and 155 genes were down-regulated by at least two-fold in RASFs compared to controls. Of note, 343 known isoforms and 561 novel isoforms were up-regulated and 262 known isoforms and 520 novel isoforms were down-regulated by at least two-fold. The magnitude of difference and the number of differentially expressed known and novel gene isoforms were not detected previously by DNA microarray.


Since the activation and proliferation of RASFs has been implicated in the pathogenesis of rheumatoid arthritis, further in-depth follow-up analysis of the transcriptional regulation reported in this study may shed light on molecular pathogenic mechanisms underlying synovial fibroblasts in arthritis and provide new leads of potential therapeutic targets.

RNA-seq; Next generation sequencing; Rheumatoid arthritis; Synovial fibroblasts; Transcriptional regulation