A miRNA-tRNA mix-up: tRNA origin of proposed miRNA

RNA Biol. Sep-Oct 2010;7(5):573-6. doi: 10.4161/rna.7.4.13141. Epub 2010 Sep 1.


The rapid release of new data from DNA genome sequencing projects has led to a variety of misannotations in public databases. Our results suggest that next generation sequencing approaches are particularly prone to such misannotations. Two related miRNA candidates did recently enter the miRBase database, miR-1274b and miR-1274a, but they share identical 18-nucleotide stretches with tRNA (Lys3) and tRNA (Lys5) , respectively. The possibility that the small RNA fragments that led to the description of these two miRNAs originated from the two tRNAs was examined. The ratio of the miR-1274b:miR-1274a fragments does closely resemble the known tRNA lys3:lys5 ratio in the cell. Furthermore, the proposed miRNA hairpins have a very low prediction score and the proposed miRNA genes are in fact endogenous retroviral elements. We searched for other miRNA-mimics in the human genome and found more examples of tRNA-miRNA mimicry. We propose that the corresponding miRNAs should be validated in more detail, as the small RNA fragments that led to their description are likely derived from tRNA processing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Base Sequence
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid*
  • Genome, Human*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / chemistry
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation*
  • Molecular Sequence Data
  • RNA, Transfer / chemistry
  • RNA, Transfer / genetics*


  • MIRN1274 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Transfer