Endogenous small non-coding RNAs (sRNAs), including microRNAs, PIWI-interacting RNAs and small interfering RNAs, play important gene regulatory roles in animals and plants by pairing to the protein-coding and non-coding transcripts. However, computationally assigning these various sRNAs to their regulatory target genes remains technically challenging. Recently, a high-throughput degradome sequencing method was applied to identify biologically relevant sRNA cleavage sites. In this study, an integrated web-based tool, StarScan (sRNA target Scan), was developed for scanning sRNA targets using degradome sequencing data from 20 species. Given a sRNA sequence from plants or animals, our web server performs an ultrafast and exhaustive search for potential sRNA-target interactions in annotated and unannotated genomic regions. The interactions between small RNAs and target transcripts were further evaluated using a novel tool, alignScore. A novel tool, degradomeBinomTest, was developed to quantify the abundance of degradome fragments located at the 9-11th nucleotide from the sRNA 5′ end. This is the first web server for discovering potential sRNA-mediated RNA cleavage events in plants and animals, which affords mechanistic insights into the regulatory roles of sRNAs.
The sRNA target analysis workflow of StarScan.
Availability – The StarScan web server is available at http://mirlab.sysu.edu.cn/starscan/