MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have important roles in various biological processes. miRNA cross-mapping is a prevalent phenomenon where miRNA sequence originating from one genomic region is mapped to another location. To have a better understanding of this phenomenon in the human genome, we performed a detailed analysis in this paper using public miRNA high-throughput sequencing data and all known human miRNAs. We observed widespread cross-mapping events between miRNA precursors (pre-miRNAs), other non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) and the opposite strands of pre-miRNAs by analyzing the high-throughput sequencing data. Computational analysis on all known human miRNAs also confirmed that many of them could be involved in cross-mapping events. The processing or decay of both ncRNAs and pre-miRNA opposite strand transcripts may contribute to miRNA enrichment, although some might be miRNA-mimics due to miRNA mis-annotation. Comparing to canonical miRNAs, miRNAs involved in cross-mapping events between pre-miRNAs and other ncRNAs normally had shorter lengths (17–19 nt), lower prediction scores and were classified as pseudo miRNA precursors. Notably, 4.9% of all human miRNAs could be accurately mapped to the opposite strands of pre-miRNAs, which showed that both strands of the same genomic region had the potential to produce mature miRNAs and simultaneously implied some potential miRNA precursors. We proposed that the cross-mapping events are more complex than we previously thought. Sequence similarity between other ncRNAs and pre-miRNAs and the specific stem-loop structures of pre-miRNAs may provide evolutionary implications.
Publisher: Public Library of Science
Date Published: 26-May-2011
Author(s): Guo L., Liang T., Gu W., Xu Y., Bai Y., Lu Z.