The body muscle is an important tissue used in organisms for proper viability and locomotion. The contractile unit of the muscle is the sarcomere, which is ultimately responsible for the contraction reaction leading to movement. Although this tissue is generally well studied and characterized, and many pathways have been elucidated throughout the years, we still lack a comprehensive understanding of its transcriptome, and how it controls muscle development and function. Here, we have updated a nuclear FACS sorting-based approach to isolate and sequence a high-quality muscle transcriptome from C. elegans mixed stage animals. We have identified 2,848 muscle-specific protein-coding genes, including 78 transcription factors and 206 protein-coding genes containing an RNA binding domain. We studied their interaction network, performed a detailed promoter analysis, and identified novel muscle-specific cis -acting elements. We have also identified 16 high-quality muscle-specific miRNAs, studied their function in vivo using fluorochrome-based analyses, and developed the first high-quality miRNA Interactome in a living organism, incorporating other muscle-specific datasets produced by our lab and others.
Our study expands our understanding of how muscle tissue functions in C. elegans and in turn, provide results that can in the future be applied to humans to study muscular-related diseases.