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Functions of microRNA in response to cocaine stimulation

Genet. Mol. Res. 12 (4) : 6160 - 6167

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a type of non-protein-coding single-stranded RNA, which are typically 20-25 nt in length. miRNAs play important roles in various biological processes, including development, cell proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. We aimed to detect the miRNA response to cocaine stimulations and their target genes. Using the miRNA expression data GSE21901 downloaded from the Gene Expression Omnibus database, we screened out the differentially expressed miRNA after short-term (1 h) and longer-term (6 h) cocaine stimulations based on the fold change >1.2. Target genes of differentially expressed miRNAs were retrieved from TargetScan database with the context score -0.3. Functional annotation enrichment analysis was performed for all the target genes with DAVID. A total of 121 differentially expressed miRNAs between the 1-h treatment and the control samples, 58 between the 6-h treatment and the control samples, and 69 between the 1-h and the 6-h treatment samples. Among them, miR-212 results of particular interest, since its expression level was constantly elevated responding to cocaine treatment. After functional and pathway annotations of target genes, we proved that miR-212 was a critical element in cocaine-addiction, because of its involvement in regulating several important cell cycle events. The results may pave the way for further understanding the regulatory mechanisms of cocaine-response in human bodies.