BMC Genomics 2012 13;13 Suppl 7:S16. Epub 2012 Dec 13.
Information Systems Laboratory, National Center for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology (BIOTEC), 113 Thailand Science Park, Phaholyothin Road, Klong 1, Klong Luang, Pathumthani, Thailand.
Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been known to play an important role in several biological processes in both animals and plants. Although several tools for miRNA and target identification are available, the number of tools tailored towards plants is limited, and those that are available have specific functionality, lack graphical user interfaces, and restrict the number of input sequences. Large-scale computational identifications of miRNAs and/or targets of several plants have been also reported. Their methods, however, are only described as flow diagrams, which require programming skills and the understanding of input and output of the connected programs to reproduce.
Results: To overcome these limitations and programming complexities, we proposed C-mii as a ready-made software package for both plant miRNA and target identification. C-mii was designed and implemented based on established computational steps and criteria derived from previous literature with the following distinguishing features. First, software is easy to install with all-in-one programs and packaged databases. Second, it comes with graphical user interfaces (GUIs) for ease of use. Users can identify plant miRNAs and targets via step-by-step execution, explore the detailed results from each step, filter the results according to proposed constraints in plant miRNA and target biogenesis, and export sequences and structures of interest. Third, it supplies bird's eye views of the identification results with infographics and grouping information. Fourth, in terms of functionality, it extends the standard computational steps of miRNA target identification with miRNA-target folding and GO annotation. Fifth, it provides helper functions for the update of pre-installed databases and automatic recovery. Finally, it supports multi-project and multi-thread management.
Conclusions: C-mii constitutes the first complete software package with graphical user interfaces enabling computational identification of both plant miRNA genes and miRNA targets. With the provided functionalities, it can help accelerate the study of plant miRNAs and targets, especially for small and medium plant molecular labs without bioinformaticians. C-mii is freely available at http://www.biotec.or.th/isl/c-mii for both Windows and Ubuntu Linux platforms.