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PLoS One. 2012;7(9):e44873. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0044873. Epub 2012 Sep 11.

Systematic analysis of small RNAs associated with human mitochondria by deep sequencing: detailed analysis of mitochondrial associated miRNA.

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Department of Cell Biology, School of Biological Sciences and Biotechnology, Indian Institute of Advanced Research, Gandhinagar, India.


Mitochondria are one of the central regulators of many cellular processes beyond its well established role in energy metabolism. The inter-organellar crosstalk is critical for the optimal function of mitochondria. Many nuclear encoded proteins and RNA are imported to mitochondria. The translocation of small RNA (sRNA) including miRNA to mitochondria and other sub-cellular organelle is still not clear. We characterized here sRNA including miRNA associated with human mitochondria by cellular fractionation and deep sequencing approach. Mitochondria were purified from HEK293 and HeLa cells for RNA isolation. The sRNA library was generated and sequenced using Illumina system. The analysis showed the presence of unique population of sRNA associated with mitochondria including miRNA. Putative novel miRNAs were characterized from unannotated sRNA sequences. The study showed the association of 428 known, 196 putative novel miRNAs to mitochondria of HEK293 and 327 known, 13 putative novel miRNAs to mitochondria of HeLa cells. The alignment of sRNA to mitochondrial genome was also studied. The targets were analyzed using DAVID to classify them in unique networks using GO and KEGG tools. Analysis of identified targets showed that miRNA associated with mitochondria regulates critical cellular processes like RNA turnover, apoptosis, cell cycle and nucleotide metabolism. The six miRNAs (counts >1000) associated with mitochondria of both HEK293 and HeLa were validated by RT-qPCR. To our knowledge, this is the first systematic study demonstrating the associations of sRNA including miRNA with mitochondria that may regulate site-specific turnover of target mRNA important for mitochondrial related functions.

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