The expressed MicroRNA-mRNA interactions of Toxoplasma gondii
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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in post-transcriptional modulation of gene expression and thereby have a large influence on the resulting phenotype. We have previously shown that miRNAs may be involved in the communication between Toxoplasma gondii and its hosts and further confirmed a number of proposed specific miRNAs. Yet, little is known about the internal regulation via miRNAs in T. gondii. Therefore, we predicted pre-miRNAs directly from the type II ME49 genome and filtered them. For the confident hairpins, we predicted the location of the mature miRNAs and established their target genes. To add further confidence, we evaluated whether the hairpins and their targets were co-expressed. Such co-expressed miRNA and target pairs define a functional interaction. We extracted all such functional interactions and analyzed their differential expression among strains of all three clonal lineages (RH, PLK, and CTG) and between the two stages present in the intermediate host (tachyzoites and bradyzoites). Overall, we found ~65,000 expressed interactions of which ~5,500 are differentially expressed among strains but none are significantly differentially expressed between developmental stages. Since miRNAs and target decoys can be used as therapeutics we believe that the list of interactions we provide will lead to novel approaches in the treatment of toxoplasmosis.