Identification of loop nucleotide polymorphisms affecting MicroRNA processing and function
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- Xiong, X., Kang, X., Zheng, Y. et al. Mol Cells (2013) 36: 518. doi:10.1007/s10059-013-0171-1
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MicroRNAs are short 21–22 nucleotide single strand RNAs that are involved in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. Most microRNAs are first transcribed as long primary microRNAs and then undergo a two step-wise sequential processing to yield single-stranded mature microRNAs. It has been suggested that the loop region of primary microRNAs plays an important role in regulating microRNA biogenesis and target recognition. However, despite the fact that several single nucleotide polymorphisms have been identified in mature microRNA sequences and are related to human diseases, it remains unclear whether and how the single nucleotide polymorphisms in the loop regions of primary microRNAs would affect the biogenesis and function of microRNAs. Herein, we provide evidence that primary microRNAs loop nucleotides control the accuracy and efficiency of microRNA processing. Accordingly, we identified 32 single nucleotide polymorphisms in the loop regions of human primary microRNAs using bioinformatics, and further validated three loss-of-function and one gain-of-function single nucleotide polymorphisms using dual-luciferase assays. Thus, these results reveal a critical regulatory role encoded in the loop nucleotides of primary microRNAs for microRNA processing and function.