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Genome Biol Evol. 2012;4(4):552-64. doi: 10.1093/gbe/evs033. Epub 2012 Mar 27.

Transcription factors are targeted by differentially expressed miRNAs in primates.

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  • 1Department of Evolutionary Genetics, Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig, Germany.

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules involved in the regulation of mammalian gene expression. Together with other transcription regulators, miRNAs modulate the expression of genes and thereby potentially contribute to tissue and species diversity. To identify miRNAs that are differentially expressed between tissues and/or species, and the genes regulated by these, we have quantified expression of miRNAs and messenger RNAs in five tissues from multiple human, chimpanzee, and rhesus macaque individuals using high-throughput sequencing. The breadth of this tissue and species data allows us to show that downregulation of target genes by miRNAs is more pronounced between tissues than between species and that downregulation is more pronounced for genes with fewer binding sites for expressed miRNAs. Intriguingly, we find that tissue- and species-specific miRNAs target transcription factor genes (TFs) significantly more often than expected. Through their regulatory effect on transcription factors, miRNAs may therefore exert an indirect influence on a larger proportion of genes than previously thought.

PMID:
22454130
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
PMCID:
PMC3342879
Free PMC Article
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