Computer Science and Engineering, Department of


Date of this Version



BMC Genomics 2018, 19(Suppl 7):658


© The Author(s).

Open access


Background: MicroRNA regulation is fundamentally responsible for fine-tuning the whole gene network in human and has been implicated in most physiological and pathological conditions. Studying regulatory impact of microRNA on various cellular and disease processes has resulted in numerous computational tools that investigate microRNA-mRNA interactions through the prediction of static binding site highly dependent on sequence pairing. However, what hindered the practical use of such target prediction is the interplay between competing and cooperative microRNA binding that complicates the whole regulatory process exceptionally.

Results: We developed a new method for improved microRNA target prediction based on Dirichlet Process Gaussian Mixture Model (DPGMM) using a large collection of molecular features associated with microRNA, mRNA, and the interaction sites. Multiple validations based on microRNA-mRNA interactions reported in recent large-scale sequencing analyses and a screening test on the entire human transcriptome show that our model outperformed several state-of-the-art tools in terms of promising predictive power on binding sites specific to transcript isoforms with reduced false positive prediction. Last, we illustrated the use of predicted targets in constructing conditional microRNA-mediated gene regulation networks in human cancer.

Conclusion: The probability-based binding site prediction provides not only a useful tool for differentiating microRNA targets according to the estimated binding potential but also a capability highly important for exploring dynamic regulation where binding competition is involved.