Document Type


Original Publication Date


Journal/Book/Conference Title

BMC Systems Biology


7 (Suppl 5)

DOI of Original Publication



Originally published at

Date of Submission

September 2014



Despite the lack of agreement on their exact roles, it is known that miRNAs contribute to cancer progression. Many studies utilize methods to detect differential regulation of miRNA expression. It is prohibitively expensive to examine all potentially dysregulated miRNAs and traditionally, researchers have focused their efforts on the most extremely dysregulated miRNAs. These methods may overlook the contribution of less differentially expressed but more functionally relevant miRNAs. The purpose of this study was to outline a method that not only utilizes differential expression but ranks miRNAs based on the functional relevance of their targets. This work uses a networks based approach to determine the sum node degree for all experimentally verified miRNA targets to identify potential regulators of prostate cancer initiation, progression and metastasis.


Here, we present a method for identifying functionally relevant miRNAs that contribute to prostate cancer development. This paper shows that miRNAs preferentially regulate highly connected, central proteins within a protein-protein interaction network. Known targets of miRNAs differentially regulated during prostate cancer progression are enriched in pathways with known involvement in tumorigenesis. To demonstrate the applicability of our method, we utilized a unique model of prostate cancer progression to identify five miRNAs that may contribute to the oncogenic state of the cell. Three of these miRNAs have been shown by other studies to have a role in cancer but their exact role in prostate cancer remains undefined.


Developing methods to determine which miRNAs to carry forward into biological and biochemical analyses is important as traditional approaches often overlook miRNAs that contribute to oncogenesis. Our method applied to a model of prostate cancer progression was able to identify miRNAs with roles in prostate cancer development.


© 2013 Budd et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver ( applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.

Is Part Of

VCU Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Publications