last updated April 2013
Mining and sharing microRNA data
An open-access bioinformatics database developed in Thailand will aid investigations of poorly understood gene regulation mechanisms
A comprehensive and freely available database for studies on how microRNAs regulate gene expression is now available, thanks to a research team led by Jittima Piriyapongsa and Sissades Tongsima of the National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology, Thailand1.
MicroRNAs are short nucleic acid molecules that control gene expression by binding to the ends of messenger RNA transcripts, then preventing their translation or promoting their degradation. They can also modulate gene expression by targeting regulatory sequences called promoters, but only a few microRNA-promoter interaction sites have been identified to date.
Piriyapongsa, Tongsima and their colleagues used a bioinformatics approach to match microRNA sequences to their target sites in human promoter sequences; they identified more than 15 million target sites associated with about 22,300 genes. They then integrated these data with a number of other publicly available genome databases to allow exploration of the relationships among target sites and various genomic features.
The resulting database, called the microRNA-Promoter Interaction Resource (microPIR), is fully annotated with gene information and has an adjustable search, making it the most comprehensive open access repository of microRNA promoter target site information. The database should facilitate researchers’ efforts to identify microRNA-promoter interaction sites and gain a better understanding of these new regulatory mechanisms.