Akgul, Bunyamin; Peter F. Stadler; Liam J. Hawkins; Hanane-Hadj-Moussa; Kenneth B. Storey; Kemal Ergin; Rahmi Cetinkaya; Alexandre R. Paschoal; Pedro G. Nachtigall; Yusuf Tutar; Malik Yousef and Jens Allmer
Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are short RNA sequences about 18–24 nucleotide long, which provide the recognition key within RISC for the posttranscriptional regulation of target RNAs. Considering the canonical pathway, mature miRNAs are produced via a multistep process. Their transcription (pri-miRNAs) and first processing step via the microprocessor complex (pre-miRNAs) occur in the nucleus. Then they are exported into the cytosol, processed again by Dicer (dsRNA) and finally a single strand (mature miRNA) is incorporated into RISC (miRISC). The sequence of the incorporated miRNA provides the function of RNA target recognition via hybridization. Following binding of the target, the mRNA is either degraded or translation is inhibited, which ultimately leads to less protein production. Conversely, it has been shown that binding within the 5′ UTR of the mRNA can lead to an increase in protein product. Regulation of homeostasis is very important for a cell; therefore, all steps in the miRNA-based regulation pathway, from transcription to the incorporation of the mature miRNA into RISC, are under tight control. While much research effort has been exerted in this area, the knowledgebase is not sufficient for accurately modelling miRNA regulation computationally. The computational prediction of miRNAs is, however, necessary because it is not feasible to investigate all possible pairs of a miRNA and its target, let alone miRNAs and their targets. We here point out open challenges important for computational modelling or for our general understanding of miRNA-based regulation and show how their investigation is beneficial. It is our hope that this collection of challenges will lead to their resolution in the near future.