Detecting miRNA mentions and relations in biomedical literature
Introduction: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have demonstrated their potential as post-transcriptional gene expression regulators, participating in a wide spectrum of regulatory events such as apoptosis, differentiation, and stress response. Apart from the role of miRNAs in normal physiology, their dysregulation is implicated in a vast array of diseases. Dissection of miRNA-related associations are valuable for contemplating their mechanism in diseases, leading to the discovery of novel miRNAs for disease prognosis, diagnosis, and therapy. Motivation: Apart from databases and prediction tools, miRNA-related information is largely available as unstructured text. Manual retrieval of these associations can be labor-intensive due to steadily growing number of publications. Additionally, most of the published miRNA entity recognition methods are keyword based, further subjected to manual inspection for retrieval of relations. Despite the fact that several databases host miRNA-associations derived from text, lower sensitivity and lack of published details for miRNA entity recognition and associated relations identification has motivated the need for developing comprehensive methods that are freely available for the scientific community. Additionally, the lack of a standard corpus for miRNA-relations has caused difficulty in evaluating the available systems. We propose methods to automatically extract mentions of miRNAs, species, genes/proteins, disease, and relations from scientific literature. Our generated corpora, along with dictionaries, and miRNA regular expression are freely available for academic purposes. To our knowledge, these resources are the most comprehensive developed so far. Results: The identification of specific miRNA mentions reaches a recall of 0.94 and precision of 0.93. Extraction of miRNA-disease and miRNA-gene relations lead to an F1 score of up to 0.76. A comparison of the information extracted by our approach to the databases miR2Disease and miRSel for the extraction of Alzheimer's disease related relations shows the capability of our proposed methods in identifying correct relations with improved sensitivity. The published resources and described methods can help the researchers for maximal retrieval of miRNA-relations and generation of miRNA-regulatory networks.