Guidelines for the functional annotation of microRNAs using the Gene Ontology.

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RNA 2016 May; 22(5): 667-76.




MicroRNA regulation of developmental and cellular processes is a relatively new field of study, and the available research data have not been organized to enable its inclusion in pathway and network analysis tools. The association of gene products with terms from the Gene Ontology is an effective method to analyze functional data, but until recently there has been no substantial effort dedicated to applying Gene Ontology terms to microRNAs. Consequently, when performing functional analysis of microRNA data sets, researchers have had to rely instead on the functional annotations associated with the genes encoding microRNA targets. In consultation with experts in the field of microRNA research, we have created comprehensive recommendations for the Gene Ontology curation of microRNAs. This curation manual will enable provision of a high-quality, reliable set of functional annotations for the advancement of microRNA research. Here we describe the key aspects of the work, including development of the Gene Ontology to represent this data, standards for describing the data, and guidelines to support curators making these annotations. The full microRNA curation guidelines are available on the GO Consortium wiki (http://wiki.geneontology.org/index.php/MicroRNA_GO_annotation_manual). RNA 2016 May; 22(5): 667-76.