Principles of microRNA regulation of a human cellular signaling network

Mol Syst Biol. 2006;2:46. doi: 10.1038/msb4100089. Epub 2006 Sep 12.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous approximately 22-nucleotide RNAs, which suppress gene expression by selectively binding to the 3'-noncoding region of specific messenger RNAs through base-pairing. Given the diversity and abundance of miRNA targets, miRNAs appear to functionally interact with various components of many cellular networks. By analyzing the interactions between miRNAs and a human cellular signaling network, we found that miRNAs predominantly target positive regulatory motifs, highly connected scaffolds and most downstream network components such as signaling transcription factors, but less frequently target negative regulatory motifs, common components of basic cellular machines and most upstream network components such as ligands. In addition, when an adaptor has potential to recruit more downstream components, these components are more frequently targeted by miRNAs. This work uncovers the principles of miRNA regulation of signal transduction networks and implies a potential function of miRNAs for facilitating robust transitions of cellular response to extracellular signals and maintaining cellular homeostasis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • RNA, Messenger / genetics
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Messenger