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Open Access Open Badges Research article

Computational prediction of MicroRNAs targeting GABA receptors and experimental verification of miR-181, miR-216 and miR-203 targets in GABA-A receptor

Chunling Zhao12, Chaoqun Huang1, Tingting Weng1, Xiao Xiao1, Hong Ma1 and Lin Liu13*

Author Affiliations

1 The Lundberg-Kienlen Lung Biology and Toxicology Laboratory, Department of Physiological Sciences, Oklahoma State University, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078, USA

2 Department of Physiology, Lu Zhou Medical College, Lu Zhou, Sichuan Province 64600, People's Republic of China

3 Department of Physiological Sciences, Oklahoma State University, 264 McElroy Hall, Stillwater, Oklahoma 74078, USA

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:91  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-91

Published: 9 February 2012



GABA receptors are well known as the inhibitory receptors in the central nervous system and are also found in peripheral tissues. We have previously shown that GABA receptors are involved in lung development and fluid homeostasis. However, the microRNAs that regulate GABA receptors have not yet been identified.


In this study, we used the online software, TargetScan and miRanda, to query the microRNAs that directly target GABA receptors and then selected some of them to verify experimentally using 3'-UTR reporter assays. Computational approaches predict many microRNA binding sites on the 3'-UTR of GABAA receptors, but not on GABAC receptors. 3'-UTR reporter assays only verified miR-181, miR-216, and miR-203 as the microRNAs that target GABA receptor α1-subunit among 10 microRNAs tested.


Our studies reinforce that microRNA target prediction needs to be verified experimentally. The identification of microRNAs that target GABA receptors provides a basis for further studies of post-transcriptional regulation of GABA receptors.