High-throughput experimental studies to identify miRNA targets directly, with special focus on the mammalian brain

Peter T. Nelson, Marianthi Kiriakidou, Zissimos Mourelatos, Grace S. Tan, Mary H. Jennings, Kevin Xie, Wang Xia Wang

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


We review the pertinent literature on methods used in high-throughput experimental identification of microRNA (miRNA) "targets" with emphasis on neurochemical studies. miRNAs are short regulatory noncoding RNAs that play important roles in the mammalian brain. The functions of miRNAs are related to their binding of RNAs including mRNAs. Since mammalian miRNAs tend to bind to target mRNAs via imperfect complementarity, understanding exactly which target mRNAs are recognized by which specific miRNAs is a challenge. Based on early experimental evidence, a set of "binding rules" for miRNAs has been described. These have focused on the 5′ "seed" region of miRNAs binding to the 3′ untranslated region of targeted mRNAs. Bioinformaticians have applied these algorithms for theoretical miRNA target prediction. To date, the different computational methods are not in agreement with each other and do not explain all miRNA targets as defined using high-throughput experimental methods. We consider these latter techniques which identify putative miRNA targets directly. Each experimental approach involves specific assumptions and potential technical pitfalls. Some of these direct experimental methods for miRNA target identification have used co-immunoprecipitation (RIP-Chip and others) and transfection-based experimental design. Topics related to experimentally identified miRNA targets are discussed, with special emphasis on studies pertinent to the mammalian brain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)122-130
Number of pages9
JournalBrain Research
StatePublished - Jun 18 2010

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by grants R01 NS061933 , K08 NS050110 , and P01-NS051220 from NIH, Bethesda, MD , and NIRG-08-89917 from the Alzheimer's Association .


  • Alzheimer's
  • Argonaute
  • Assay
  • Brain
  • GRN
  • Granulin
  • MicroRNAs
  • Microarray
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuron
  • Target
  • eif2c
  • mRNA
  • miR-107
  • miR-124

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience (all)
  • Molecular Biology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Developmental Biology


Dive into the research topics of 'High-throughput experimental studies to identify miRNA targets directly, with special focus on the mammalian brain'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this