Molecular network analysis of human microRNA targetome: from cancers to Alzheimer's disease
MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of endogenous small noncoding RNAs, mediate posttranscriptional regulation of protein-coding genes by binding chiefly to the 3' untranslated region of target mRNAs, leading to translational inhibition, mRNA destabilization or degradation. A single miRNA concurrently downregulates hundreds of target mRNAs designated "targetome", and thereby fine-tunes gene expression involved in diverse cellular functions, such as development, differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis and metabolism. Recently, we characterized the molecular network of the whole human miRNA targetome by using bioinformatics tools for analyzing molecular interactions on the comprehensive knowledgebase. We found that the miRNA targetome regulated by an individual miRNA generally constitutes the biological network of functionally-associated molecules in human cells, closely linked to pathological events involved in cancers and neurodegenerative diseases. We also identified a collaborative regulation of gene expression by transcription factors and miRNAs in cancer-associated miRNA targetome networks. This review focuses on the workflow of molecular network analysis of miRNA targetome in silico. We applied the workflow to two representative datasets, composed of miRNA expression profiling of adult T cell leukemia (ATL) and Alzheimer's disease (AD), retrieved from Gene Expression Omnibus (GEO) repository. The results supported the view that miRNAs act as a central regulator of both oncogenesis and neurodegeneration.