Models of microRNA–target coordination

Neil R. Smalheiser, Vetle I. Torvik

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter


Introduction The number of microRNAs appears to be ever-growing, as more intensive sequencing of small RNAs reveals a large population of sequences that are expressed at low abundance, or in a tissue- or stage-specific manner. Computational studies have also predicted the existence of thousands of candidate microRNA precursor hairpin structures throughout mammalian genomes (reviewed in Bentwich, 2005). The number of predicted potential targets per microRNA is also steadily increasing, with the recognition that binding of a 7-mer seed at the 5′-end of a microRNA may be sufficient to regulate a target mRNA functionally (Doench and Sharp, 2004; Farh et al., 2005; Lim et al., 2005; Stark et al., 2005; Sood et al., 2006). But how are microRNAs and their targets coordinated – if at all? 0A random model One recent paper proposes that microRNAs arise whenever a RNA hairpin structure happens to be transcribed, that happens to be competent for processing by Drosha and Dicer (Svoboda and Cara, 2006). Most of these microRNAs will have no function at all, at least not initially: They will bind to a relatively large number of putative target regions at random (a 7-mer sequence will bind randomly every 47 = 16 384 bases on average), and those target regions that happen to be associated with a useful phenotypic response will tend to be retained over evolutionary time whereas those mRNAs that show deleterious responses will become relatively depleted in target sequences (Svoboda and Cara, 2006).

Original languageEnglish (US)
Title of host publicationMicroRNAs
Subtitle of host publicationFrom Basic Science to Disease Biology
PublisherCambridge University Press
Number of pages6
ISBN (Electronic)9780511541766
ISBN (Print)9780521865982
StatePublished - Jan 1 2007
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)

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    Smalheiser, N. R., & Torvik, V. I. (2007). Models of microRNA–target coordination. In MicroRNAs: From Basic Science to Disease Biology (pp. 221-226). Cambridge University Press.