Evidence that miRNAs are different from other RNAs

B. H. Zhang, X. P. Pan, S. B. Cox, G. P. Cobb, T. A. Anderson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

455 Scopus citations


An examination of 513 known pre-miRNAs and 237 other RNAs (tRNA, rRNA, and mRNA) revealed that miRNAs were significantly different from other RNAs (p<0.001). miRNA genes were less conserved than other RNA genes, although their mature miRNA sequences were highly conserved. The A+U content of pre-miRNAs was higher than non-coding RNA (p<0.001), but lower than mRNAs. The nucleotides in pre-miRNAs formed more hydrogen bonds and base pairs than in other RNAs. miRNAs had higher negative adjusted minimal folding free energies than other RNAs except tRNAs (p<0.001). The MFE index (MFEI) was a sufficient criterion to distinguish miRNAs from all coding and non-coding RNAs (p<0.001). The MFEI for miRNAs was 0.97, significantly higher than tRNAs (0.64), rRNAs (0.59), or mRNAs (0.65). Our findings should facilitate the prediction and identification of new miRNAs using computational and experimental strategies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)246-254
Number of pages9
JournalCellular and Molecular Life Sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2006


  • Bioinformatics
  • MFEI
  • MicroRNA
  • Minimal folding free energy index
  • Plant
  • mRNA
  • rRNA
  • tRNA


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