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miR-21-5p and miR-30a-5p are identical in human and bovine, have similar isomiR distribution, and cannot be used to identify xenomiR uptake from cow milk

By Bastian Fromm, Juan Pablo Tosar, Yin Lu, Marc K. Halushka, Kenneth W. Witwer

Posted 05 Mar 2018
bioRxiv DOI: 10.1101/275834

microRNAs (miRNAs) are often highly conserved across species, but species-specific sequences are known. In addition, miRNA isomiRs arise from the same precursor molecule but differ in post-processing length and modification, usually at the 3-prime end. A recently published feeding study reported the intriguing result that two bovine milk-specific miRNAs were taken up into human circulation after ingestion of bovine milk. Unfortunately, this interpretation is based on annotation errors in a public microRNA database. Reanalysis using databses including the MirGeneDB database reveals that the miRNAs in question, miR-21-5p and miR-30a-5p, arise from 100% identical 5-prime precursor sequences in human and bovine, and the putative bovine-specific isomiRs appear to be depleted, not enriched, in bovine milk. Thus, enrichment of these isomiRs in human blood is inconsistent with uptake of xenomiRs and likely betrays endogenous miRNA regulation in response to diet or technical artifact.

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