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The sequence features that define efficient and specific hAGO2-dependent miRNA silencing guides.

Yan Y, Acevedo M, Mignacca L, Desjardins P, Scott N, Imane R, Quenneville J, Robitaille J, Feghaly A, Gagnon E, Ferbeyre G, Major F

Département de biochimie et médecine moléculaire, Université de Montréal, Montréal, Québec H3C 3J7, Canada.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are ribonucleic acids (RNAs) of ∼21 nucleotides that interfere with the translation of messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and play significant roles in development and diseases. In bilaterian animals, the specificity of miRNA targeting is determined by sequence complementarity involving the seed. However, the role of the remaining nucleotides (non-seed) is only vaguely defined, impacting negatively on our ability to efficiently use miRNAs exogenously to control gene expression. Here, using reporter assays, we deciphered the role of the base pairs formed between the non-seed region and target mRNA. We used molecular modeling to reveal that this mechanism corresponds to the formation of base pairs mediated by ordered motions of the miRNA-induced silencing complex. Subsequently, we developed an algorithm based on this distinctive recognition to predict from sequence the levels of mRNA downregulation with high accuracy (r2 > 0.5, P-value < 10-12). Overall, our discovery improves the design of miRNA-guide sequences used to simultaneously downregulate the expression of multiple predetermined target genes.

Nucleic Acids Res. 2018;46(16):8181-8196.

Pubmed ID: 30239883

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