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Computational methods for ab initio detection of microRNAs
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MicroRNAs are small RNA sequences of 18-24 nucleotides in length, which serve as templates to drive post-transcriptional gene silencing. The canonical microRNA pathway starts with transcription from DNA and is followed by processing via the microprocessor complex, yielding a hairpin structure. Which is then exported into the cytosol where it is processed by Dicer and then incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex. All of these biogenesis steps add to the overall specificity of miRNA production and effect. Unfortunately, their modes of action are just beginning to be elucidated and therefore computational prediction algorithms cannot model the process but are usually forced to employ machine learning approaches. This work focuses on ab initio prediction methods throughout; and therefore homology-based miRNA detection methods are not discussed. Current ab initio prediction algorithms, their ties to data mining, and their prediction accuracy are detailed.