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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 30;5(9). pii: e13067. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013067.

Human microRNA oncogenes and tumor suppressors show significantly different biological patterns: from functions to targets.

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  • 1Department of Biomedical Informatics, Peking University Health Science Center, Beijing, China.

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs which play essential roles in many important biological processes. Therefore, their dysfunction is associated with a variety of human diseases, including cancer. Increasing evidence shows that miRNAs can act as oncogenes or tumor suppressors, and although there is great interest in research into these cancer-associated miRNAs, little is known about them. In this study, we performed a comprehensive analysis of putative human miRNA oncogenes and tumor suppressors. We found that miRNA oncogenes and tumor suppressors clearly show different patterns in function, evolutionary rate, expression, chromosome distribution, molecule size, free energy, transcription factors, and targets. For example, miRNA oncogenes are located mainly in the amplified regions in human cancers, whereas miRNA tumor suppressors are located mainly in the deleted regions. miRNA oncogenes tend to cleave target mRNAs more frequently than miRNA tumor suppressors. These results indicate that these two types of cancer-associated miRNAs play different roles in cancer formation and development. Moreover, the patterns identified here can discriminate novel miRNA oncogenes and tumor suppressors with a high degree of accuracy. This study represents the first large-scale bioinformatic analysis of human miRNA oncogenes and tumor suppressors. Our findings provide help for not only understanding of miRNAs in cancer but also for the specific identification of novel miRNAs as miRNA oncogenes and tumor suppressors. In addition, the data presented in this study will be valuable for the study of both miRNAs and cancer.

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