MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that play an important role in the regulation of various biological processes through their interaction with cellular messenger RNAs. They are frequently dysregulated in cancer and have shown great potential as tissue-based markers for cancer classification and prognostication. microRNAs are also present in extracellular human body fluids such as serum, plasma, saliva, and urine. Most of circulating microRNAs are present in human plasma and serum cofractionate with the Argonaute2 (Ago2) protein. However, circulating microRNAs have been also found in membrane-bound vesicles such as exosomes. Since microRNAs circulate in the bloodstream in a highly stable, extracellular form, they may be used as blood-based biomarkers for cancer and other diseases.
A knowledge base of extracellular circulating miRNAs is a fundamental tool for biomedical research. In this work, researchers from the University of Catania, Italy present miRandola, a comprehensive manually curated classification of extracellular circulating miRNAs. miRandola is connected to miRò, the miRNA knowledge base, allowing users to infer the potential biological functions of circulating miRNAs and their connections with phenotypes. The miRandola database contains 2132 entries, with 581 unique mature miRNAs and 21 types of samples. miRNAs are classified into four categories, based on their extracellular form: miRNA-Ago2 (173 entries), miRNA-exosome (856 entries), miRNA-HDL (20 entries) and miRNA-circulating (1083 entries).
Availability – miRandola is available online at: http://atlas.dmi.unict.it/mirandola/index.html.
- Russo F, Di Bella S, Nigita G, Macca V, Laganà A, Giugno R, Pulvirenti A, Ferro A. (2012) miRandola: extracellular circulating microRNAs database. PLoS One 7(10):e47786. [article]