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Bioinformatics. 2019 Jan 24. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btz038. [Epub ahead of print]

The interplay between microRNA and alternative splicing of linear and circular RNAs in eleven plant species.

Author information

Basic Forestry and Proteomics Research Center, College of Forestry, Fujian Provincial Key Laboratory of Haixia Applied Plant Systems Biology, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China.
College of Life Science, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China.
College of Forestry, Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University, Fuzhou, China.
Department of Biology, Program in Molecular Plant Biology, Program in Cell and Molecular Biology, Colorado State University, Fort Collins, Colorado, USA.
Department of Molecular, Cell & Developmental Biology, University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA.



MicroRNA (miRNA) and alternative splicing (AS)-mediated post-transcriptional regulation has been extensively studied in most eukaryotes. However, the interplay between AS and miRNAs has not been explored in plants. To our knowledge, the overall profile of miRNA target sites in circular RNAs (circRNA) generated by alternative back splicing has never been reported previously. To address the challenge, we identified miRNA target sites located in alternatively spliced regions of the linear and circular splice isoforms using the up-to-date single-molecule real-time (SMRT) isoform sequencing (Iso-Seq) and Illumina sequencing data in eleven plant species.


In total, we identified 399,401 and 114,574 AS events from linear and circular RNAs, respectively. Among them, there were 64,781 and 41,146 miRNA target sites located in linear and circular AS region, respectively. In addition, we found 38,913 circRNAs to be overlapping with 45,648 AS events of its own parent isoforms, suggesting circRNA regulation of AS of linear RNAs by forming R-loop with the genomic locus. Here, we present a comprehensive database of miRNA targets in alternatively spliced linear and circRNAs (ASmiR) and a web server for deposition and identification of miRNA target sites located in the alternatively spliced region of linear and circular RNAs. This database is accompanied by an easy-to-use web query interface for meaningful downstream analysis. Plant research community can submit user-defined datasets to the web service to search AS regions harboring small RNA target sites. In conclusion, this study provides an unprecedented resource to understand regulatory relationships between miRNAs and AS in both gymnosperms and angiosperms.

Availability and Implementation:

The readily accessible database and web-based tools are available at

Supplementary information:

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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