microRNAs (miRNAs) are short ~22nt non-coding RNAs that regulate gene output at the post-transcriptional level. Via targeting of degenerate elements primarily in 3'untranslated regions (3'UTR) of mRNAs, miRNAs can target thousands of varying genes and suppress their protein translation. The precise mechanistic function and bio- logical role of miRNAs is not fully understood and yet it is a major contributor to a pleth- ora of diseases, including neurological disorders, muscular disorders, and cancer. Cer- tain model organisms are valuable in understanding the function of miRNA and there- fore fully understanding the biological significance of miRNA targeting. Here I report a mechanistic analysis of miRNA targeting in C. elegans, and a bioinformatic approach to aid in further investigation of miRNA targeted sequences. A few of the biologically significant mechanisms discussed in this thesis include alternative polyadenylation, RNA binding proteins, components of the miRNA recognition machinery, miRNA secondary structures, and their polymorphisms. This thesis also discusses a novel bioinformatic approach to studying miRNA biology, including computational miRNA target prediction software, and sequence complementarity. This thesis allows a better understanding of miRNA biology and presents an ideal strategy for approaching future research in miRNA targeting.
- miRNA Targeting: In depth review of biologically significant mechanisms and a bioinformatic approach to identifying targeting sequences in C. elegans
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