Cellular and Molecular Life Sciences

, Volume 76, Issue 3, pp 441–451 | Cite as

Regulatory network of miRNA on its target: coordination between transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression

  • Mengfan Pu
  • Jing Chen
  • Zhouteng Tao
  • Lingling Miao
  • Xinming Qi
  • Yizheng Wang
  • Jin RenEmail author


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous small noncoding RNAs that participate in a majority of biological processes via regulating target gene expression. The post-transcriptional repression through miRNA seed region binding to 3′ UTR of target mRNA is considered as the canonical mode of miRNA-mediated gene regulation. However, emerging evidence suggests that other regulatory modes exist beyond the canonical mechanism. In particular, the function of intranuclear miRNA in gene transcriptional regulation is gradually revealed, with evidence showing their contribution to gene silencing or activating. Therefore, miRNA-mediated regulation of gene transcription not only expands our understanding of the molecular mechanism underlying miRNA regulatory function, but also provides new evidence to explain its ability in the sophisticated regulation of many bioprocesses. In this review, mechanisms of miRNA-mediated gene transcriptional and post-transcriptional regulation are summarized, and the synergistic effects among these actions which form a regulatory network of a miRNA on its target are particularly elaborated. With these discussions, we aim to emphasize the importance of miRNA regulatory network on target gene regulation and further highlight the potential application of the network mode in the achievement of a more effective and stable modulation of the target gene expression.


miRNA target recognition miRNA non-seed sequence function miRNA cellular distribution miRNA-related nucleic acid drugs 



Argonaute proteins


Antisense oligonucleotides


Cytochrome P450 (CYP) 2E1


DiGeorge syndrome chromosomal [or critical] region 8




Hepatitis C virus


Importin 8


MicroRNA-induced silencing complex






Nuclear pore complex


Small nucleolar RNA


SWI/SNF-related matrix-associated actin-dependent regulator of chromatin subfamily E member 1


Post-transcriptional gene silencing


Precursor miRNAs


Processing body

Pol II

Polymerase II


RNA silencing


Transactivation-responsive RNA-binding protein


Transcriptional gene silencing


Transcriptional gene activating


Trinucleotide repeat-containing gene 6A


Untranslated region





No funding was received.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors have declared that no competing interest exists.


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Copyright information

© Springer Nature Switzerland AG 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mengfan Pu
    • 1
    • 2
  • Jing Chen
    • 1
  • Zhouteng Tao
    • 1
  • Lingling Miao
    • 1
  • Xinming Qi
    • 1
  • Yizheng Wang
    • 3
  • Jin Ren
    • 1
    Email author
  1. 1.Center for Drug Safety Evaluation and Research, State Key Laboratory of Drug ResearchShanghai Institute of Materia Medica, Chinese Academy of SciencesShanghaiChina
  2. 2.School of Life Science and TechnologyShanghaiTech UniversityShanghaiChina
  3. 3.The Brain Science CenterBeijing Institute of Basic Medical SciencesBeijingChina

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