Measurement of MicroRNA: A Regulator of Gene Expression

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MicroRNAs (miRs) are epigenetic regulators of messenger RNAs' (mRNA) expression of polypeptides. As such, miRs represent an intriguing mechanism by which gene-environment interactions are hypothesized to occur on the level of epigenetic control over gene expression. In addition to promising findings from in vitro studies indicating that miRs have the potential to function as therapeutic agents in modifying the course of pathophysiologic conditions, recent human studies revealed changes in miR expression patterns in response to behavioral interventions. The authors provide an overview of how miRs are preserved and isolated from other genetic material and describe commonly used methods for measuring miR in the research setting, including Northern blot, polymerase chain reaction, and microarray. The authors also introduce bioinformatic approaches to analysis of high-throughput miR expression and techniques used to create predictive models of miR-mRNA binding to describe possible physiologic pathways affected by specific miRs.

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