Hunting the needle in the haystack - A guide to obtain biologically meaningful microRNA targets

Michael Karbiener, Christina Glantschnig, Marcel Scheideler*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous small non-coding RNAs of ~23 nucleotides in length that form up a novel class of regulatory determinants, with a large set of target mRNAs postulated for every single miRNA. Thousands of miRNAs have been discovered so far, with hundreds of them shown to govern biological processes with impact on disease. However, very little is known about how they specifically interfere with biological pathways and disease mechanisms. To investigate this interaction, the hunt for direct miRNA targets that mediate the miRNA effects—the “needle in the haystack”—is an essential step. In this review we provide a comprehensive workflow of successfully applied methods starting from the identification of putative miRNA-target pairs, followed by validation of direct miRNA–mRNA interactions, and finally presenting methods that dissect the impact of particular miRNA-target pairs on a biological process or disease. This guide allows the way to be paved for obtaining biologically meaningful miRNA targets.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)20266-20289
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2014

Fields of Expertise

  • Human- & Biotechnology

Treatment code (Nähere Zuordnung)

  • Basic - Fundamental (Grundlagenforschung)
  • Review

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