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RNA. 2011 Feb;17(2):365-80. doi: 10.1261/rna.2490111. Epub 2010 Dec 17.

miR-ID: a novel, circularization-based platform for detection of microRNAs.

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  • 1Somagenics, Inc., Santa Cruz, California 95060, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important regulators of gene expression and have great potential as biomarkers, prognostic indicators, and therapeutic targets. Determining the expression patterns of these molecules is essential for elucidating their biogenesis, regulation, relation to disease, and response to therapy. Although PCR-based assays are commonly used for expression profiling of miRNAs, the small size, sequence heterogeneity, and (in some cases) end modifications of miRNAs constrain the performance of existing PCR methods. Here we introduce miR-ID, a novel method that avoids these constraints while providing superior sensitivity and sequence specificity at a lower cost. It also has the unique ability to differentiate unmodified small RNAs from those carrying 2'-OMe groups at their 3'-ends while detecting both forms. miR-ID is comprised of the following steps: (1) circularization of the miRNA by a ligase; (2) reverse transcription of the circularized miRNA (RTC), producing tandem repeats of a DNA sequence complementary to the miRNA; and (3) qPCR amplification of segments of this multimeric cDNA using 5'-overlapping primers and a nonspecific dye such as SYBR Green. No chemically modified probes (e.g., TaqMan) or primers (e.g., LNA) are required. The circular RNA and multimeric cDNA templates provide unmatched flexibility in the positioning of primers, which may include straddling the boundaries between these repetitive miRNA sequences. miR-ID is based on new findings that are themselves of general interest, including reverse transcription of small RNA circles and the use of 5'-overlapping primers for detection of repetitive sequences by qPCR.

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