Experimental validation of miRNA targets

Donald E. Kuhn, Mickey M. Martin, David S. Feldman, Alvin V Terry, Gerard J. Nuovo, Terry S. Elton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

291 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs are natural, single-stranded, small RNA molecules that regulate gene expression by binding to target mRNAs and suppress its translation or initiate its degradation. In contrast to the identification and validation of many miRNA genes is the lack of experimental evidence identifying their corresponding mRNA targets. The most fundamental challenge in miRNA biology is to define the rules of miRNA target recognition. This is critical since the biological role of individual miRNAs will be dictated by the mRNAs that they regulate. Therefore, only as target mRNAs are validated will it be possible to establish commonalities that will enable more precise predictions of miRNA/mRNA interactions. Currently there is no clear agreement as to what experimental procedures should be followed to demonstrate that a given mRNA is a target of a specific miRNA. Therefore, this review outlines several methods by which to validate miRNA targets. Additionally, we propose that multiple criteria should be met before miRNA target validation should be considered "confirmed.".

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)47-54
Number of pages8
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2008


  • Bioinformatics
  • MicroRNA
  • Reporter genes
  • mRNA targets

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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