Thymic degeneration and regeneration are regulated by estrogen and androgen. Recent studies have found that long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in organ development. In this study, RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) results showed that ovariectomy significantly affected 333 lncRNAs, 51 miRNAs, and 144 mRNAs levels (p < 0.05 and |log2fold change| > 1), and orchiectomy significantly affected 165 lncRNAs, 165 miRNAs, and 208 mRNA levels in the thymus. Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) analysis showed that differentially expressed genes (DEGs) were closely related to cell development and immunity. Next, we constructed two lncRNA–miRNA–mRNA networks using Cytoscape based on the targeting relationship between differentially expressed miRNAs (DEMs) and DEGs and differentially expressed lncRNAs (DELs) analyzed by TargetScan and miRanda. Besides, we screened DEGs that were significantly enriched in GO and in ceRNA networks to verify their expression in thymocytes and thymic epithelial cells (TECs). In addition, we analyzed the promoter sequences of DEGs, and identified 25 causal transcription factors. Finally, we constructed transcription factor-miRNA-joint target gene networks. In conclusion, this study reveals the effects of estrogen and androgen on the expression of miRNAs, lncRNAs, and mRNAs in mice thymus, providing new insights into the regulation of thymic development by gonadal hormones and non-coding RNAs.
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