Genome-wide Dissection of MicroRNA Functions and Cotargeting Networks Using Gene Set Signatures

Graduate Program in Biophysics, Harvard University, Cambridge, MA 02138, USA.
Molecular cell (Impact Factor: 14.02). 04/2010; 38(1):140-53. DOI: 10.1016/j.molcel.2010.03.007
Source: PubMed


MicroRNAs are emerging as important regulators of diverse biological processes and pathologies in animals and plants. Though hundreds of human microRNAs are known, only a few have known functions. Here, we predict human microRNA functions by using a new method that systematically assesses the statistical enrichment of several microRNA-targeting signatures in annotated gene sets such as signaling networks and protein complexes. Some of our top predictions are supported by published experiments, yet many are entirely new or provide mechanistic insights to known phenotypes. Our results indicate that coordinated microRNA targeting of closely connected genes is prevalent across pathways. We use the same method to infer which microRNAs regulate similar targets and provide the first genome-wide evidence of pervasive cotargeting, in which a handful of "hub" microRNAs are involved in a majority of cotargeting relationships. Our method and analyses pave the way to systematic discovery of microRNA functions.

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