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Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2007 Jan 19;352(3):733-8. Epub 2006 Nov 27.

MicroRNAs preferentially target the genes with high transcriptional regulation complexity.

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  • 1Biotechnology Research Institute, National Research Council Canada, Montreal, Que., Canada H4P 2R2.


Over the past few years, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as a new prominent class of gene regulatory factors that negatively regulate expression of approximately one-third of the genes in animal genomes at post-transcriptional level. However, it is still unclear why some genes are regulated by miRNAs but others are not, i.e. what principles govern miRNA regulation in animal genomes. In this study, we systematically analyzed the relationship between transcription factors (TFs) and miRNAs in gene regulation. We found that the genes with more TF-binding sites have a higher probability of being targeted by miRNAs and have more miRNA-binding sites on average. This observation reveals that the genes with higher cis-regulation complexity are more coordinately regulated by TFs at the transcriptional level and by miRNAs at the post-transcriptional level. This is a potentially novel discovery of mechanism for coordinated regulation of gene expression. Gene ontology analysis further demonstrated that such coordinated regulation is more popular in the developmental genes.

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