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PLoS One. 2016 Mar 1;11(3):e0149495. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0149495. eCollection 2016.

MicroRNA from Moringa oleifera: Identification by High Throughput Sequencing and Their Potential Contribution to Plant Medicinal Value.

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Department of Biology, University of Rome "Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy.
Mir-Nat s.r.l., Rome, Italy.
SOCOPOMO S/C 46 P.A. de Lingang, Dschang, Cameroon.
University of Dschang, Dschang, Cameroon.
Department of Agricultural and Forest Science, University of Tuscia, Viterbo, Italy.
Centro di Servizi Interdipartimentale, Stazione per la Tecnologia Animale, University of Rome''Tor Vergata", Rome, Italy.


Moringa oleifera is a widespread plant with substantial nutritional and medicinal value. We postulated that microRNAs (miRNAs), which are endogenous, noncoding small RNAs regulating gene expression at the post-transcriptional level, might contribute to the medicinal properties of plants of this species after ingestion into human body, regulating human gene expression. However, the knowledge is scarce about miRNA in Moringa. Furthermore, in order to test the hypothesis on the pharmacological potential properties of miRNA, we conducted a high-throughput sequencing analysis using the Illumina platform. A total of 31,290,964 raw reads were produced from a library of small RNA isolated from M. oleifera seeds. We identified 94 conserved and two novel miRNAs that were validated by qRT-PCR assays. Results from qRT-PCR trials conducted on the expression of 20 Moringa miRNA showed that are conserved across multiple plant species as determined by their detection in tissue of other common crop plants. In silico analyses predicted target genes for the conserved miRNA that in turn allowed to relate the miRNAs to the regulation of physiological processes. Some of the predicted plant miRNAs have functional homology to their mammalian counterparts and regulated human genes when they were transfected into cell lines. To our knowledge, this is the first report of discovering M. oleifera miRNAs based on high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics analysis and we provided new insight into a potential cross-species control of human gene expression. The widespread cultivation and consumption of M. oleifera, for nutritional and medicinal purposes, brings humans into close contact with products and extracts of this plant species. The potential for miRNA transfer should be evaluated as one possible mechanism of action to account for beneficial properties of this valuable species.

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