MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important key regulators in multiple cellular functions, due to their a crucial role in different physiological processes. MiRNAs are differentially expressed in specific tissues, during specific cell status, or in different diseases as tumours.
RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) is a Next Generation Sequencing (NGS) method for the analysis of differential gene expression. Using machine learning algorithms, it is possible to improve the functional significance interpretation of miRNA in the analysis and interpretation of data from RNA-seq.
Researchers from the National Research Council of Italy adopted a biclustering approach, using the Iterative Signature Algorithm (ISA) algorithm, in order to evaluate miRNA deregulation in the context of miRNA abundance and tissue heterogeneity. These are important elements to identify miRNAs that would be useful as prognostic and diagnostic markers.
Considering a real word breast cancer dataset, the evaluation of miRNA differential expressions in tumours versus healthy tissues evidenced 12 different miRNA clusters, associated to specific groups of patients. The identified miRNAs were deregulated in breast tumours compared to healthy controls.
This approach has shown the association between specific sub-class of tumour samples having the same immuno-histo-chemical and/or histological features. Biclusters have been validated by means of two online repositories, MetaMirClust database and UCSC Genome Browser, and using another biclustering algorithm.