spongeScan: A web for detecting microRNA binding elements in lncRNA sequences.

22 Jan 2018

Non-coding RNA transcripts such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are important genetic regulators. However, the functions of many of these transcripts are still not clearly understood. Recently, it has become apparent that there is significant crosstalk between miRNAs and lncRNAs and that this creates competition for binding between the miRNA, a lncRNA and other regulatory targets. Indeed, various competitive endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) have already been identified where a lncRNA acts by sequestering miRNAs. This implies the down-regulation in the interaction of the miRNAs with their mRNA targets, what has been called a sponge effect. Multiple approaches exist for the prediction of miRNA targets in mRNAs. However, few methods exist for the prediction of miRNA response elements (MREs) in lncRNAs acting as ceRNAs (sponges). Here, we present spongeScan (http://spongescan.rc.ufl.edu), a graphical web tool to compute and visualize putative MREs in lncRNAs, along with different measures to assess their likely behavior as ceRNAs.