miRBase: from microRNA sequences to function

Nucleic Acids Res. 2019 Jan 8;47(D1):D155-D162. doi: 10.1093/nar/gky1141.


miRBase catalogs, names and distributes microRNA gene sequences. The latest release of miRBase (v22) contains microRNA sequences from 271 organisms: 38 589 hairpin precursors and 48 860 mature microRNAs. We describe improvements to the database and website to provide more information about the quality of microRNA gene annotations, and the cellular functions of their products. We have collected 1493 small RNA deep sequencing datasets and mapped a total of 5.5 billion reads to microRNA sequences. The read mapping patterns provide strong support for the validity of between 20% and 65% of microRNA annotations in different well-studied animal genomes, and evidence for the removal of >200 sequences from the database. To improve the availability of microRNA functional information, we are disseminating Gene Ontology terms annotated against miRBase sequences. We have also used a text-mining approach to search for microRNA gene names in the full-text of open access articles. Over 500 000 sentences from 18 542 papers contain microRNA names. We score these sentences for functional information and link them with 12 519 microRNA entries. The sentences themselves, and word clouds built from them, provide effective summaries of the functional information about specific microRNAs. miRBase is publicly and freely available at http://mirbase.org/.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Computational Biology* / methods
  • Data Mining
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid*
  • Gene Ontology
  • Genomics* / methods
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Molecular Sequence Annotation
  • Web Browser


  • MicroRNAs