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Bioinformatics. 2020 Jan 13. pii: btaa007. doi: 10.1093/bioinformatics/btaa007. [Epub ahead of print]

FilTar: Using RNA-Seq data to improve microRNA target prediction accuracy in animals.

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School of Biological Sciences, University of East Anglia, Norwich, UK. NR4 7TJ.
Earlham Institute, Norwich Research Park, Norwich, UK. NR4 7UZ.



microRNA (miRNA) target prediction algorithms do not generally consider biological context and therefore generic target prediction based on seed binding can lead to a high level of false positive predictions. Here we present FilTar, a method that incorporates RNA-Seq data to make miRNA target prediction specific to a given cell type or tissue of interest.


We demonstrate that FilTar can be used to 1) provide sample specific 3'UTR reannotation; extending or truncating default annotations based on RNA-Seq read evidence. and 2) filter putative miRNA target predictions by transcript expression level, thus removing putative interactions where the target transcript is not expressed in the tissue or cell-line of interest. We test the method on a variety of miRNA transfection datasets and demonstrate increased accuracy versus generic miRNA target prediction methods.


FilTar is freely available and can be downloaded from The tool is implemented using the Python and R programming languages, and is supported on GNU/Linux operating systems.


Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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