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Gene. 2013 Jan 10;512(2):383-91. doi: 10.1016/j.gene.2012.09.102. Epub 2012 Oct 12.

Comparative genomic analysis reveals evolutionary characteristics and patterns of microRNA clusters in vertebrates.

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  • 1College of Bioinformatics Science and Technology and The Second Affiliated Hospital, Harbin Medical University, Harbin 150081, PR China.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding RNAs that can play important regulatory roles in many important biological processes. Although clustering patterns of miRNA clusters have been uncovered in animals, the origin and evolution of miRNA clusters in vertebrates are still poorly understood. Here, we performed comparative genomic analyses to construct 51 sets of orthologous miRNA clusters (SOMCs) across seven test vertebrate species, a collection of miRNA clusters from two or more species that are likely to have evolved from a common ancestral miRNA cluster, and used these to systematically examine the evolutionary characteristics and patterns of miRNA clusters in vertebrates. We found that miRNA clusters are continuously generated, and most of them tend to be conserved and maintained in vertebrate genomes, although some adaptive gains and losses of miRNA cluster have occurred during evolution. Furthermore, miRNA clusters appeared relatively early in the evolutionary history might suffer from more complicated adaptive gain-and-loss than those young miRNA clusters. Detailed analysis showed that genomic duplication events of ancestral miRNAs or miRNA clusters are likely to be major driving force and apparently contribute to origin and evolution of miRNA clusters. Comparison of conserved with lineage-specific miRNA clusters revealed that the contribution of duplication events for the formation of miRNA cluster appears to be more important for conserved miRNA clusters than lineage-specific. Our study provides novel insights for further exploring the origins and evolution of miRNA clusters in vertebrates at a genome scale.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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