Discover the most talked about and latest scientific content & concepts.

Concept: MicroRNA


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous short non-coding RNA molecules that regulate gene expression by repressing translation or cleaving RNA transcripts in a sequence-specific manner. Bioinformatic analyses predict that miRNAs regulate more than 30% of protein coding genes. To date, 1921 human mature miRNAs have been registered in miRBase release 18.0 ( A growing body of evidence suggests that miRNAs are aberrantly expressed in many human carcinomas and that they play key roles in the initiation, development and metastasis of human cancers, including head and neck squamous cell carcinoma (HNSCC). In this review, eight genome-wide miRNA expression profiles were used to selected aberrantly expressed miRNAs (up-regulated and down-regulated miRNAs) in HNSCC clinical specimens including our miRNA profiles of hypopharyngeal and maxillary sinus squamous cell carcinoma. We discuss recent findings on the aberrant expression of miRNAs and their contribution to human HNSCC oncogenesis.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Gene expression, Cancer, Molecular biology, RNA, MicroRNA, Squamous cell carcinoma


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that regulate various biological processes, primarily through interaction with messenger RNAs. The levels of specific, circulating miRNAs in blood have been shown to associate with various pathological conditions including cancers. These miRNAs have great potential as biomarkers for various pathophysiological conditions. In this study we focused on different sample types' effects on the spectrum of circulating miRNA in blood. Using serum and corresponding plasma samples from the same individuals, we observed higher miRNA concentrations in serum samples compared to the corresponding plasma samples. The difference between serum and plasma miRNA concentration showed some associations with miRNA from platelets, which may indicate that the coagulation process may affect the spectrum of extracellular miRNA in blood. Several miRNAs also showed platform dependent variations in measurements. Our results suggest that there are a number of factors that might affect the measurement of circulating miRNA concentration. Caution must be taken when comparing miRNA data generated from different sample types or measurement platforms.

Concepts: Gene, Blood, RNA, MicroRNA, Coagulation, Messenger RNA, Platelet, Antagomir


Despite a general repression of translation under hypoxia, cells selectively upregulate a set of hypoxia-inducible genes. Results from deep sequencing revealed that Let-7 and miR-103/107 are hypoxia-responsive microRNAs (HRMs) that are strongly induced in vascular endothelial cells. In silico bioinformatics and in vitro validation showed that these HRMs are induced by HIF1α and target argonaute 1 (AGO1), which anchors the microRNA-induced silencing complex (miRISC). HRM targeting of AGO1 resulted in the translational desuppression of VEGF mRNA. Inhibition of HRM or overexpression of AGO1 without the 3' untranslated region decreased hypoxia-induced angiogenesis. Conversely, AGO1 knockdown increased angiogenesis under normoxia in vivo. In addition, data from tumor xenografts and human cancer specimens indicate that AGO1-mediated translational desuppression of VEGF may be associated with tumor angiogenesis and poor prognosis. These findings provide evidence for an angiogenic pathway involving HRMs that target AGO1 and suggest that this pathway may be a suitable target for anti- or proangiogenesis strategies.

Concepts: DNA, Gene expression, RNA, Angiogenesis, MicroRNA, In vivo, Endothelium, In vitro


Next generation sequencing has an advantageon transformational development of species with limited available sequence data as it helps to decode the genome and transcriptome. We carried out the sequencing using illuminaHiSeq™ 2000 to generate the first leaf transcriptome of black pepper ( L.), an important spice variety native to South India and also grown in other tropical regions. Despite the economic and biochemical importance of pepper, a scientifically rigorous study at the molecular level is far from complete due to lack of sufficient sequence information and cytological complexity of its genome. The 55 million raw reads obtained, when assembled using Trinity program generated 2,23,386 contigs and 1,28,157 unigenes. Reports suggest that the repeat-rich genomic regions give rise to small non-coding functional RNAs. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are the most abundant type of non-coding regulatory RNAs. In spite of the widespread research on miRNAs, little is known about the hair-pin precursors of miRNAs bearing Simple Sequence Repeats (SSRs). We used the array of transcripts generated, for the prediction and detection of ‘43 pre-miRNA candidates bearing different types of SSR motifs’. The analysis identified 3913 different types of SSR motifs with an average of one SSR per 3.04 MB of thetranscriptome. About 0.033% of the transcriptome constituted ‘pre-miRNA candidates bearing SSRs’. The abundance, type and distribution of SSR motifs studied across the hair-pin miRNA precursors, showed a significant bias in the position of SSRs towards the downstream of predicted ‘pre-miRNA candidates’. The catalogue of transcripts identified, together with the demonstration of reliable existence of SSRs in the miRNA precursors, permits future opportunities for understanding the genetic mechanism of black pepper and likely functions of ‘tandem repeats’ in miRNAs.

Concepts: Scientific method, Gene, Genetics, Molecular biology, Genome, RNA, MicroRNA, Black pepper


BACKGROUND: Alternate bearing is a widespread phenomenon among crop plants, defined as the tendency of certain fruit trees to produce a high-yield crop one year (“on-year”), followed by a low-yield or even no crop the following year (“off-year”). Several factors may affect the balance between such developmental phase-transition processes. Among them are the microRNA (miRNA), being gene-expression regulators that have been found to be involved as key determinants in several physiological processes. RESULTS: Six olive (Olea europaea L. cv. Ayvalik variety) small RNA libraries were constructed from fruits (ripe and unripe) and leaves (“on year” and “off year” leaves in July and in November, respectively) and sequenced by high-throughput Illumina sequencing. The RNA was retrotranscribed and sequenced using the high-throughput Illumina platform. Bioinformatics analyses of 93,526,915 reads identified 135 conserved miRNA, belonging to 22 miRNA families in the olive. In addition, 38 putative novel miRNAs were discovered in the datasets. Expression of olive tree miRNAs varied greatly among the six libraries, indicating the contribution of diverse miRNA in balancing between reproductive and vegetative phases. Predicted targets of miRNA were categorized into 108 process ontology groups with significance abundance. Among those, potential alternate bearing-associated processes were found, such as development, hormone-mediated signaling and organ morphogenesis. The KEGG analyses revealed that the miRNA-targeted genes are involved in seven main pathways, belonging to carbohydrate metabolism and hormone signal-transduction pathways. CONCLUSION: A comprehensive study on olive miRNA related to alternate bearing was performed. Regulation of miRNA under different developmental phases and tissues indicated that control of nutrition and hormone, together with flowering processes had a noteworthy impact on the olive tree alternate bearing. Our results also provide significant data on the miRNA-fruit development interaction and advance perspectives in the miRNA profile of the olive tree.

Concepts: Gene, RNA, MicroRNA, Fruit, Olive, Oleaceae, Olea


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important post-transcriptional regulators. Altered expression of miRNAs has recently demonstrated association with human ulcerative colitis (UC). In this study, we attempted to elucidate the roles of miR-126 in the pathogenesis of UC.

Concepts: MicroRNA, Ulcerative colitis, Colitis, Regulation


Despite a large amount of microRNAs (miRNAs) have been validated to play crucial roles in human biology and disease, there is little systematic insight into the nature and scale of the potential synergistic interactions executed by miRNAs themselves. Here we established an integrated parameter synergy score to determine miRNA synergy, by combining the two mechanisms for miRNA-miRNA interactions, miRNA-mediated gene co-regulation and functional association between target gene products, into one single parameter. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analysis indicated that synergy score accurately identified the gene ontology-defined miRNA synergy (AUC = 0.9415, p<0.001). Only a very small portion of the random miRNA-miRNA combinations generated potent synergy, implying poor expectancy of widespread synergy. However, targeting more key genes made two miRNAs more likely to act synergistically. Compared to other miRNAs, miR-21 was a highly exceptional case due to frequent appearance in the top synergistic miRNA pairs. This result highlighted its essential role in coordinating or strengthening physiological and pathological functions of other miRNAs. The synergistic effect of miR-21 and miR-1 were functionally validated for their significant influences on myocardial apoptosis, cardiac hypertrophy and fibrosis. The novel approach established in this study enables easy and effective identification of condition-restricted potent miRNA synergy simply by concentrating the available protein interactomics and miRNA-target interaction data into a single parameter synergy score. Our results may be important for understanding synergistic gene regulation by miRNAs and may have significant implications for miRNA combination therapy of cardiovascular disease.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Biology, RNA, MicroRNA, Synergy, Receiver operating characteristic, Antagomir


Drought stress has adverse impacts on plant production and productivity. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are one class of noncoding RNAs regulating gene expression post-transcriptionally. In this study, we employed small RNA and degradome sequencing to systematically investigate the tissue-specific miRNAs responsible to drought stress, which are understudied in tomato. For this purpose, root and upground tissues of two different drought-responsive tomato genotypes (Lycopersicon esculentum as sensitive and L. esculentum var. cerasiforme as tolerant) were subjected to stress with 5% polyethylene glycol for 7 days. A total of 699 conserved miRNAs belonging to 578 families were determined and 688 miRNAs were significantly differentially expressed between different treatments, tissues and genotypes. Using degradome sequencing, 44 target genes were identified associated with 36 miRNA families. Drought-related miRNAs and their targets were enriched functionally by Gene Ontology (GO) and Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) pathway analyses. Totally, 53 miRNAs targeted 23 key drought stress- and tissue development-related genes, including DRP (dehydration-responsive protein), GTs (glycosyltransferases), ERF (ethylene responsive factor), PSII (photosystem II) protein, HD-ZIP (homeodomain-leucine zipper), MYB and NAC-domain transcription factors. miR160, miR165, miR166, miR171, miR398, miR408, miR827, miR9472, miR9476 and miR9552 were the key miRNAs functioning in regulation of these genes and involving in tomato response to drought stress. Additionally, plant hormone signal transduction pathway genes were differentially regulated by miR169, miR172, miR393, miR5641, miR5658 and miR7997 in both tissues of both sensitive and tolerant genotypes. These results provide new insight into the regulatory role of miRNAs in drought response with plant hormone signal transduction and drought-tolerant tomato breeding.

Concepts: DNA, Protein, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Molecular biology, RNA, MicroRNA


Asbestos is a harmful and exceptionally persistent natural material. Malignant mesothelioma (MM), an asbestos-related disease, is an insidious, lethal cancer that is poorly responsive to current treatments. Minimally invasive, specific, and sensitive biomarkers providing early and effective diagnosis in high-risk patients are urgently needed. MicroRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) are endogenous, non-coding, small RNAs with established diagnostic value in cancer and pollution exposure. A systematic review and a qualitative meta-analysis were conducted to identify high-confidence miRNAs that can serve as biomarkers of asbestos exposure and MM.

Concepts: Cancer, Oncology, Medical terms, MicroRNA, Mesothelioma, Asbestos, Asbestos and the law, Wittenoom, Western Australia


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of cell-autonomous gene expression that influence many biological processes. They are also released from cells and are present in virtually all body fluids, including blood, urine, saliva, sweat, and milk. The functional role of nutritionally obtained extracellular miRNAs is controversial, and irrefutable demonstration of exogenous miRNA uptake by cells and canonical miRNA function is still lacking. Here we show that miRNAs are present at high levels in milk of lactating mice. To investigate intestinal uptake of miRNAs in newborn mice, we employed genetic models in which newborn miR-375 and miR-200c/141 knockout mice received milk from wildtype foster mothers. Analysis of intestinal epithelium, blood, liver and spleen revealed no evidence for miRNA uptake. miR-375 levels in hepatocytes were at the limit of detection and remained orders of magnitude below the threshold for target gene regulation (between 1000 and 10,000 copies/cell). Furthermore, our study revealed rapid degradation of milk miRNAs in the intestinal fluid. Together, our results indicate a nutritional rather than gene regulatory role of miRNAs in milk of newborn mice.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Genetics, Gene expression, Bacteria, Organism, RNA, MicroRNA