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A structural-based statistical approach suggests a cooperative activity of PUM1 and miR-410 in human 3'-untranslated regions

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Author(s): Leibovich Limor | Mandel-Gutfreund Yael | Yakhini Zohar

Journal: Silence
ISSN 1758-907X

Volume: 1;
Issue: 1;
Start page: 17;
Date: 2010;
Original page

ABSTRACT
Abstract Background Micro (mi)RNAs comprise a large family of small non-coding RNAs that are thought to regulate a large fraction of protein-coding genes. Generally, miRNAs downregulate messenger (m)RNA expression by binding to the 3' untranslated regions (UTRs) of the RNA molecules. An important factor for binding specificity is the matching in the seed region. In addition, target site accessibility is thought to be crucial for efficient repression of miRNA targets. Several recent studies indicated that miRNA repression can be facilitated by RNA-binding proteins. In this study, we examine the conjecture that RNA-binding proteins are involved in ushering miRNAs to bind targets that are initially less accessible. Results We analyzed human 3'-UTR sequences containing potential binding sites of 153 conserved miRNA families, and ranked sequences around the sites according to their miRNA accessibility. By applying a rank-based motif search tool to these miRNA targets, we found motifs that are enriched among less accessible targets. As expected from our ranking method, most of the significant motifs were GC-rich. However, one AU-rich motif was found to be enriched among miR-410 less accessible targets. This motif resembles the Pumilio homolog 1 (PUM1) consensus binding site. We observed a stronger enrichment of the PUM1 motif in conserved targets than in non-conserved targets; moreover, the enrichment of this motif was found to be conserved in a subset of placental mammals. Further, we analyzed publicly available gene expression data, and found that the mutual expression of PUM1 and miR-410 has a greater negative influence on the expression of low accessibility targets than on other targets, an effect that was stronger than when considering both miR-410 and PUM1 separately. Conclusions Taken together, our findings suggest a cooperative relationship between miR-410 and PUM1 in regulating human highly structured 3'-UTRs. This kind of cooperation can allow a second level of regulation of such targets. Considering cases in which miRNAs bind low accessibility targets may help to improve current miRNA prediction tools and to obtain a better understanding of the mechanisms underlying miRNA regulation activity.
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