Rapid identification of regulatory microRNAs by miTRAP (miRNA trapping by RNA in vitro affinity purification)

Nucleic Acids Res. 2014 Apr;42(8):e66. doi: 10.1093/nar/gku127. Epub 2014 Feb 7.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) control gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. However, the identification of miRNAs regulating the fate of a specific messenger RNA remains limited due to the imperfect complementarity of miRNAs and targeted transcripts. Here, we describe miTRAP (miRNA trapping by RNA in vitro affinity purification), an advanced protocol of previously reported MS2-tethering approaches. MiTRAP allows the rapid identification of miRNAs targeting an in vitro transcribed RNA in cell lysates. Selective co-purification of regulatory miRNAs was confirmed for the MYC- as well as ZEB2-3'UTR, two well-established miRNA targets in vivo. Combined with miRNA-sequencing, miTRAP identified in addition to miRNAs reported to control MYC expression, 18 novel candidates including not in silico predictable miRNAs. The evaluation of 10 novel candidate miRNAs confirmed 3'UTR-dependent regulation of MYC expression as well as putative non-canonical targeting sites for the not in silico predictable candidates. In conclusion, miTRAP provides a rapid, cost-effective and easy-to-handle protocol allowing the identification of regulatory miRNAs for RNAs of choice in a cellular context of interest. Most notably, miTRAP not only identifies in silico predictable but also unpredictable miRNAs regulating the expression of a specific target RNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions*
  • Cell Line
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Genes, myc
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA
  • Transcription, Genetic


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • MicroRNAs