Understanding microRNA-mediated gene regulatory networks through mathematical modelling

Xin Lai, Olaf Wolkenhauer, Julio Vera

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

111 Citations (Scopus)


The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) has added a new player to the regulation of gene expression. With the increasing number of molecular species involved in gene regulatory networks, it is hard to obtain an intuitive understanding of network dynamics. Mathematical modelling can help dissecting the role of miRNAs in gene regulatory networks, and we shall here review the most recent developments that utilise different mathematical modelling approaches to provide quantitative insights into the function of miRNAs in the regulation of gene expression. Key miRNA regulation features that have been elucidated via modelling include: (i) the role of miRNA-mediated feedback and feedforward loops in fine-tuning of gene expression; (ii) the miRNA-target interaction properties determining the effectiveness of miRNA-mediated gene repression; and (iii) the competition for shared miRNAs leading to the cross-regulation of genes. However, there is still lack of mechanistic understanding of many other properties of miRNA regulation like unconventional miRNA-target interactions, miRNA regulation at different sub-cellular locations and functional miRNA variant, which will need future modelling efforts to deal with. This review provides an overview of recent developments and challenges in this field.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6019-6035
Number of pages17
JournalNucleic Acids Research
Issue number13
Publication statusPublished - 27 Jul 2016
Externally publishedYes
Publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics


Dive into the research topics of 'Understanding microRNA-mediated gene regulatory networks through mathematical modelling'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this