MicroRNAs (miRNAs), one type of small RNAs (sRNAs) in plants, play an essential role in gene regulation. Several miRNA databases were established; however, successively generated new datasets need to be collected, organized and analyzed. To this end, we have constructed a plant miRNA knowledge base (PmiRKB) that provides four major functional modules. In the 'SNP' module, single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) data of seven Arabidopsis (Arabidopsis thaliana) accessions and 21 rice (Oryza sativa) subspecies were collected to inspect the SNPs within pre-miRNAs (precursor microRNAs) and miRNA-target RNA duplexes. Depending on their locations, SNPs can affect the secondary structures of pre-miRNAs, or interactions between miRNAs and their targets. A second module, 'Pri-miR', can be used to investigate the tissue-specific, transcriptional contexts of pre- and pri-miRNAs (primary microRNAs), based on massively parallel signature sequencing data. The third module, 'MiR-Tar', was designed to validate thousands of miRNA-target pairs by using parallel analysis of RNA end (PARE) data. Correspondingly, the fourth module, 'Self-reg', also used PARE data to investigate the metabolism of miRNA precursors, including precursor processing and miRNA- or miRNA*-mediated self-regulation effects on their host precursors. PmiRKB can be freely accessed at http://bis.zju.edu.cn/pmirkb/.
School of Life Sciences, Nanjing University
Nanjing 210023, China