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PLoS One. 2010 Jun 30;5(6):e11154. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0011154.

Tissue-specific target analysis of disease-associated microRNAs in human signaling pathways.

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  • 1Institute for Bioinformatics and Systems Biology, Helmholtz Zentrum M√ľnchen, Neuherberg, Germany. andreas.kowarsch@helmholtz-muenchen.de


MicroRNAs are a large class of post-transcriptional regulators that bind to the 3' untranslated region of messenger RNAs. They play a critical role in many cellular processes and have been linked to the control of signal transduction pathways. Recent studies indicate that microRNAs can function as tumor suppressors or even as oncogenes when aberrantly expressed. For more general insights of disease-associated microRNAs, we analyzed their impact on human signaling pathways from two perspectives. On a global scale, we found a core set of signaling pathways with enriched tissue-specific microRNA targets across diseases. The function of these pathways reflects the affinity of microRNAs to regulate cellular processes associated with apoptosis, proliferation or development. Comparing cancer and non-cancer related microRNAs, we found no significant differences between both groups. To unveil the interaction and regulation of microRNAs on signaling pathways locally, we analyzed the cellular location and process type of disease-associated microRNA targets and proteins. While disease-associated proteins are highly enriched in extracellular components of the pathway, microRNA targets are preferentially located in the nucleus. Moreover, targets of disease-associated microRNAs preferentially exhibit an inhibitory effect within the pathways in contrast to disease proteins. Our analysis provides systematic insights into the interaction of disease-associated microRNAs and signaling pathways and uncovers differences in cellular locations and process types of microRNA targets and disease-associated proteins.

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