RNA (New York, N.Y.)

A human microRNA precursor binding to folic acid discovered by small RNA transcriptomic SELEX.

PMID 27852928


RNA aptamers are structured motifs that bind to specific molecules. A growing number of RNAs bearing aptamer elements, whose functions are modulated by direct binding of metabolites, have been found in living cells. Recent studies have suggested that more small RNAs binding to metabolites likely exist and may be involved in diverse cellular processes. However, conventional methods are not necessarily suitable for the discovery of such RNA aptamer elements in small RNAs with lengths ranging from 50 to 200 nucleotides, due to the far more abundant tRNAs in this size range. Here, we describe a new in vitro selection method to uncover naturally occurring small RNAs capable of binding to a ligand of interest, referred to as small RNA transcriptomic SELEX (smaRt-SELEX). By means of this method, we identified a motif in human precursor microRNA 125a (hsa-pre-miR-125a) that interacts with folic acid. Mutation studies revealed that the terminal loop region of hsa-pre-miR-125a is important for this binding interaction. This method has potential for the discovery of new RNA aptamer elements or catalytic motifs in biological small RNA fractions.

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