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PLOS ONE  2013 

Comprehensive Analysis of Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms in Human MicroRNAs

DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0078028

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous small non-coding RNAs that repress their targets at post transcriptional level. Single Nucleotide Polymorphisms (SNPs) in miRNAs can lead to severe defects to the functions of miRNAs and might result in diseases. Although several studies have tried to identify the SNPs in human miRNA genes or only in the mature miRNAs, there are only limited endeavors to explain the distribution of SNPs in these important genes. After a genome-wide scan for SNPs in human miRNAs, we totally identified 1899 SNPs in 961 out of the 1527 reported miRNA precursors of human, which is the most complete list of SNPs in human miRNAs to date. More importantly, to explain the distributions of SNPs existed in human miRNAs, we comprehensively and systematically analyzed the identified SNPs in miRNAs from several aspects. Our results suggest that conservation, genomic context, secondary structure, and functional importance of human miRNAs affect the accumulations of SNPs in these genes. Our results also show that the number of SNPs with significantly different frequencies among various populations in the HapMap and 1000 Genome Project data are consistent with the geographical distributions of these populations. These analyses provide a better insight of SNPs in human miRNAs and the spreading of the SNPs in miRNAs in different populations.


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