MicroRNA target recognition: Insights from transcriptome-wide non-canonical interactions

Heeyoung Seok, Juyoung Ham, Eun Sook Jang, Sung Wook Chi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

122 Citations (Scopus)


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs (~22 nucleotides) regulating gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. By directing the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) to bind specific target mRNAs, miRNA can repress target genes and affect various biological phenotypes. Functional miRNA target recognition is known to majorly attribute specificity to consecutive pairing with seed region (position 2-8) of miRNA. Recent advances in a transcriptome-wide method of mapping miRNA binding sites (Ago HITS-CLIP) elucidated that a large portion of miRNA-target interactions in vivo are mediated not only through the canonical "seed sites" but also via non-canonical sites (~15-80%), setting the stage to expand and determine their properties. Here we focus on recent findings from transcriptome-wide non-canonical miRNAtarget interactions, specifically regarding "nucleation bulges" and "seed-like motifs". We also discuss insights from Ago HITS-CLIP data alongside structural and biochemical studies, which highlight putative mechanisms of miRNA target recognition, and the biological significance of these non-canonical sites mediating marginal repression.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)375-381
Number of pages7
JournalMolecules and cells
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 2016 May 1

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© The Korean Society for Molecular and Cellular Biology. All rights reserved.


  • Argonaute
  • CLIP
  • Non-canonical targets
  • microRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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