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RNA. 2010 Nov;16(11):2170-80. doi: 10.1261/rna.2225110. Epub 2010 Sep 28.

Complexity of the microRNA repertoire revealed by next-generation sequencing.

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  • 1Institute for Systems Biology, 1441 N.34th Street, Seattle, WA 98103, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated to play key roles in normal physiological functions, and altered expression of specific miRNAs has been associated with a number of diseases. It is of great interest to understand their roles and a prerequisite for such study is the ability to comprehensively and accurately assess the levels of the entire repertoire of miRNAs in a given sample. It has been shown that some miRNAs frequently have sequence variations termed isomirs. To better understand the extent of miRNA sequence heterogeneity and its potential implications for miRNA function and measurement, we conducted a comprehensive survey of miRNA sequence variations from human and mouse samples using next generation sequencing platforms. Our results suggest that the process of generating this isomir spectrum might not be random and that heterogeneity at the ends of miRNA affects the consistency and accuracy of miRNA level measurement. In addition, we have constructed a database from our sequencing data that catalogs the entire repertoire of miRNA sequences ( This enables users to determine the most abundant sequence and the degree of heterogeneity for each individual miRNA species. This information will be useful both to better understand the functions of isomirs and to improve probe or primer design for miRNA detection and measurement.

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