miRNA Regulons Associated with Synaptic Function
AuthorPaschou, M.; Paraskevopoulou, M. D.; Vlachos, I. S.; Koukouraki, P.; Hatzigeorgiou, A. G.; Doxakis, E.
Differential RNA localization and local protein synthesis regulate synapse function and plasticity in neurons. MicroRNAs are a conserved class of regulatory RNAs that control mRNA stability and translation in tissues. They are abundant in the brain but the extent into which they are involved in synaptic mRNA regulation is poorly known. Herein, a computational analysis of the coding and 3'UTR regions of 242 presynaptic and 304 postsynaptic proteins revealed that 91% of them are predicted to be microRNA targets. Analysis of the longest 3'UTR isoform of synaptic transcripts showed that presynaptic mRNAs have significantly longer 3'UTR than control and postsynaptic mRNAs. In contrast, the shortest 3'UTR isoform of postsynaptic mRNAs is significantly shorter than control and presynaptic mRNAs, indicating they avert microRNA regulation under specific conditions. Examination of microRNA binding site density of synaptic 3'UTRs revealed that they are twice as dense as the rest of protein-coding transcripts and that approximately 50% of synaptic transcripts are predicted to have more than five different microRNA sites. An interaction map exploring the association of microRNAs and their targets revealed that a small set of ten microRNAs is predicted to regulate 77% and 80% of presynaptic and postsynaptic transcripts, respectively. Intriguingly, many of these microRNAs have yet to be identified outside primate mammals, implicating them in cognition differences observed between high-level primates and non-primate mammals. Importantly, the identified miRNAs have been previously associated with psychotic disorders that are characterized by neural circuitry dysfunction, such as schizophrenia. Finally, molecular dissection of their KEGG pathways showed enrichment for neuronal and synaptic processes. Adding on current knowledge, this investigation revealed the extent of miRNA regulation at the synapse and predicted critical microRNAs that would aid future research on the control of neuronal plasticity and etiology of psychiatric diseases.