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Int J Genomics. 2018 May 29;2018:9585383. doi: 10.1155/2018/9585383. eCollection 2018.

Nonredundant, Highly Connected MicroRNAs Control Functionality in Breast Cancer Networks.

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Computational Genomics Division, National Institute of Genomic Medicine, 14610 Mexico City, Mexico.
Centro de Ciencias de la Complejidad, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 04510 Mexico City, Mexico.
Department of Biological Regulation, Weizmann Institute of Science, 7610001 Rehovot, Israel.


Alterations to transcriptional regulation are an important factor in breast cancer. Noncoding RNA, such as microRNA (miR), have very influential roles in the transcriptional regulation of genes. Transcriptional regulation can be successfully modeled and analyzed using complex network theory. Particularly, interactions between two distinct classes of biological elements, such as miR and genes, can be approached through the bipartite network formalism. Based on bipartite network properties, it is possible to identify highly influential miRs in the network, such as those that have a large number of connections indicating regulation of a large set of genes. Some miRs in a network are nonredundant, which indicates that they are solely responsible of the regulation of a particular set of genes, which in turn may be associated to a particular biological process. We hypothesize that highly influential, nonredundant miRs, which we call Commodore miRs (Cdre-miRs), have an important role on the control of biological functions through transcriptional networks. In this work, we analyze the regulation of gene expression by miRs in healthy and cancerous breast tissue using bipartite miR-gene networks inferred from the Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) expression data. We observe differences in the degree, clustering coefficient and redundancy distributions for miRs and genes in the network, indicating differences in the way that these elements interact with each other. Furthermore, we identify a small set of five Cdre-miRs in the breast cancer network: miR-190b, miR-let7i, miR-292-b, miR-511, and miR-141. The neighborhood of genes controlled by each of these miRs is involved in particular biological functions such as dynein structure-associated processes, immune response, angiogenesis, cytokine activity, and cell motility. We propose that these Cdre-miRs are important control elements of biological functions deregulated in breast cancer.

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