It is known that miRNA target sites are very short and the effect of miRNA-target site interaction alone appears as being unspecific. Recent experiments suggest further context signals involved in miRNA target site recognition and regulation. Here, we present a novel GC-rich RNA motif downstream of experimentally supported miRNA target sites in human mRNAs with no similarity to previously reported functional motifs. We demonstrate that the novel motif can be found in at least one third of all transcripts regulated by miRNAs. Furthermore, we show that motif occurrence and the frequency of miRNA target sites as well as the stability of their duplex structures correlate. The finding, that the novel motif is significantly associated with miRNA target sites, suggests a functional role of the motif in miRNA target site biology. Beyond, the novel motif has the impact to improve prediction of miRNA target sites significantly.
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