A comprehensive analysis of argonaute-CLIP data identifies novel, conserved and species-specific targets of miR-21 in human liver and hepatocellular carcinoma

Aaron Balasingam Koenig, Juan Martín Barajas, María Jose Guerrero, Kalpana Ghoshal

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6 Citations (Scopus)


MicroRNAs are ~22 nucleotide RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by binding messenger RNA transcripts. miR-21 is described as an oncomiR whose steady-state levels are commonly increased in many malignancies, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Methods known as cross-linking and immunoprecipitation of RNA followed by sequencing (CLIP-seq) have enabled transcriptome-wide identification of miRNA interactomes. In our study, we use a publicly available Argonaute-CLIP dataset (GSE97061), which contains nine HCC cases with matched benign livers, to characterize the miR-21 interactome in HCC. Argonaute-CLIP identified 580 miR-21 bound target sites on coding transcripts, of which 332 were located in the coding sequences, 214 in the 3′-untranslated region, and 34 in the 5′-untranslated region, introns, or downstream sequences. We compared the expression of miR-21 targets in 377 patients with liver cancer from the data generated by The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA) and found that mRNA levels of 402 miR-21 targets are altered in HCC. Expression of three novel predicted miR-21 targets (CAMSAP1, DDX1 and MARCKSL1) correlated with HCC patient survival. Analysis of RNA-seq data from SK-Hep1 cells treated with a miR-21 antisense oligonucleotide (GSE65892) identified RMND5A, an E3 ubiquitin ligase, as a strong miR-21 candidate target. Collectively, our analysis identified novel miR-21 targets that are likely to play a causal role in hepatocarcinogenesis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number851
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 14 Mar 2018


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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