Recent studies have unveiled the numerous roles of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) highlighting the biological significance of these previously 'overlooked' RNA species. NcRNAs and especially microRNAs (miRNAs) and, more recently, long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) are currently in the center of biological research; involved in a plethora of biological processes affecting cell homeostasis.
miRNAs are considered post-transcriptional gene regulators enabling translational repression, mRNA degradation and gene silencing thus playing a major role in gene expression. They bind on their target usually by partial or complete base pairing on specific miRNA recognition elements (MREs) on mRNA as well as other non-coding RNA sequences such as lncRNAs.
Recent findings have also revealed some of the cellular mechanisms involving lncRNAs. For instance, lncRNAs have been shown to be associated to chromatin remodeling; structural scaffolding of nuclear protein substructures; cell cycle regulation; binding to Polycomb repressive complexes and even interacting with miRNA molecules and regulate gene expression.Aim of DIANA Tools is to provide algorithms, databases and software for interpreting and archiving data in a systematic framework ranging from the analysis of expression regulation from deep sequencing data, the annotation of miRNA regulatory elements and targets to the interpretation of the role of ncRNAs in various diseases and pathways.
The arsenal of DIANA Tools ranges from target prediction algorithms (microT v4 and microT-CDS), databases of experimentally verified miRNA targets on coding and non-coding RNAs (TarBase v7.0 and LncBase) to software capable of identifying potentially altered molecular pathways by the expression of a single or multiple miRNAs (mirPath). In addition, the newly developed Web Server (v5.0) supports a series of sophisticated workflows enabling users without the necessary bioinformatics infrastructure to perform advanced multi-step functional miRNA analyses.