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Open Access Highly Accessed Research article

Insights into the regulation of human CNV-miRNAs from the view of their target genes

Xudong Wu, Dinglin Zhang and Guohui Li*

Author affiliations

Laboratory of Molecular Modeling and Design, State key Laboratory of Molecular Reaction Dynamics, Dalian Institute of Chemical Physics, Chinese Academy of Sciences, 457 Zhongshan Rd., Dalian, 116023, PR China

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Citation and License

BMC Genomics 2012, 13:707  doi:10.1186/1471-2164-13-707

Published: 18 December 2012

Abstract

Background

microRNAs (miRNAs) represent a class of small (typically 22 nucleotides in length) non-coding RNAs that can degrade their target mRNAs or block their translation. Recent research showed that copy number alterations of miRNAs and their target genes are highly prevalent in cancers; however, the evolutionary and biological functions of naturally existing copy number variable miRNAs (CNV-miRNAs) among individuals have not been studied extensively throughout the genome.

Results

In this study, we comprehensively analyzed the properties of genes regulated by CNV-miRNAs, and found that CNV-miRNAs tend to target a higher average number of genes and prefer to synergistically regulate the same genes; further, the targets of CNV-miRNAs tend to have higher variability of expression within and between populations. Finally, we found the targets of CNV-miRNAs are more likely to be differentially expressed among tissues and developmental stages, and participate in a wide range of cellular responses.

Conclusions

Our analyses of CNV-miRNAs provide new insights into the impact of copy number variations on miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional networks. The deeper interpretation of patterns of gene expression variation and the functional characterization of CNV-miRNAs will help to broaden the current understanding of the molecular basis of human phenotypic diversity.

Keywords:
Copy number variation; miRNA; Expression variation; HapMap ethnic population