Unveiling the principle of microRNA-mediated redundancy in cellular pathway regulation

Understanding the multifaceted nature of microRNA (miRNA) function in mammalian cells is still a challenge. Commonly accepted principles of cooperativity and multiplicity of miRNA function imply that individual mRNAs can be targeted by several miRNAs whereas a single miRNA may concomitantly regulate a subset of different genes. However, there is a paucity of information whether multiple miRNAs regulate critical cellular events and thereby acting redundantly. To gain insight into this notion, we conducted an unbiased high-content miRNA screen by individually introducing 1139 miRNA mimics into Chinese hamster ovary (CHO) cells. We discovered that 66% of all miRNAs significantly impacted on proliferation, protein expression, apoptosis and necrosis. In summary, we provide evidence for a substantial degree of redundancy among miRNAs to maintain cellular homeostasis.