The past decade has seen an explosion of interest in cataloging the small RNA repertoires of animal and plant species, and in understanding the biological function of small RNAs. Small RNAs include not only microRNAs, but also piRNAs and other types of endogenous small RNAs.
Distinguishing closely-related small RNAs is difficult using microarray- and qPCR-based approaches, since imperfectly matched small RNAs may still be able to hybridize to PCR primers or immobilized probes. These considerations have led to the realization that next generation sequencing (NGS) is the most practical method for large-scale small RNA studies that aim to identify and enumerate small RNAs in various species and tissues. NGS offers advantages of sensitivity, specificity, and the ability to maximize data acquisition and minimize costs by using multiplex strategies to allow many samples to be sequenced simultaneously. (read more…)