miRNet – dissecting miRNA-target interactions and functional associations through network-based visual analysis

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) can regulate nearly all biological processes and their dysregulation is implicated in various complex diseases and pathological conditions. Recent years have seen a growing number of functional studies of miRNAs using high-throughput experimental technologies, which have produced a large amount of high-quality data regarding miRNA target genes and their interactions with small molecules, long non-coding RNAs, epigenetic modifiers, disease associations, etc These rich sets of information have enabled the creation of comprehensive networks linking miRNAs with various biologically important entities to shed light on their collective functions and regulatory mechanisms.

Researchers ta McGill University have devloped miRNet, an easy-to-use web-based tool that offers statistical, visual and network-based approaches to help researchers understand miRNAs functions and regulatory mechanisms.

The key features of miRNet include:

  1. a comprehensive knowledge base integrating high-quality miRNA-target interaction data from 11 databases;
  2. support for differential expression analysis of data from microarray, RNA-seq and quantitative PCR;
  3. implementation of a flexible interface for data filtering, refinement and customization during network creation;
  4. a powerful fully featured network visualization system coupled with enrichment analysis.

miRNet flow chart


There are three major components in miRNet – the data input processing module, the network creation module, and the network visual analytics module. In each module, a variety of functions have been implemented to help users perform a range of different tasks.

miRNet offers a comprehensive tool suite to enable statistical analysis and functional interpretation of various data generated from current miRNA studies.

Availability – miRNet is freely available at http://www.mirnet.ca

Fan Y, Siklenka K, Arora SK, Ribeiro P, Kimmins S, Xia J. (2016) miRNet – dissecting miRNA-target interactions and functional associations through network-based visual analysis. Nucleic Acids Res [Epub ahead of print]. [article]

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