Haploinsufficiency of tumor suppressor genes, wherein the reduced production and activity of proteins results in the inability of the cell to maintain normal cellular function, is one among the various causes of cancer. However the precise molecular mechanisms underlying this condition remain unclear. Here we hypothesize that single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in the 3'untranslated region (UTR) of mRNAs and microRNA seed sequence (miR-SNPs) may cause haploinsufficiency at the level of proteins through altered binding specificity of microRNAs (miRNAs). Bioinformatics analysis of haploinsufficient genes for variations in their 3'UTR showed that the occurrence of SNPs result in the creation of new binding sites for miRNAs, thereby bringing the respective mRNA variant under the control of more miRNAs. In addition, 19 miR-SNPs were found to result in non-specific binding of microRNAs to tumor suppressors. Networking analysis suggests that the haploinsufficient tumor suppressor genes strongly interact with one another, and any subtle alterations in this network will contribute to tumorigenesis.
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