Overview - What is small RNA-Seq?

Small RNA sequencing is used for small RNA profiling across the entire transcriptome, as well as for discovery and analysis of novel microRNA (miRNA) and miRNA isoforms (isomiRs). Small RNA sequencing is an RNA-Seq approach that targets small RNAs as input material. These noncoding small RNAs include important regulatory elements like miRNA, siRNA and piRNA. Small RNAs are involved in cellular processes like RNA-mediated epigenetic regulation of gene expression, cell development, differentiation and apoptosis. miRNAs in particular are well-studied modulators of protein expression through post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms. As abnormal miRNA mechanisms have been strongly linked to diseases such as cancer, miRNA-seq is a tool with considerable diagnostic and prognostic potential.

Applications - What are the advantages of small RNA-Seq?

A next-generation sequencing (NGS) approach to small RNA profiling provides key advantages such as:

  • A profile of all small RNAs and miRNAs in the transcriptome
  • Analysis of all small noncoding RNAs without prior sequence information
  • Identification of novel small RNAs
  • Characterisation of miRNA isoforms and their effects on gene expression
  • Tissue-specific differential expression analysis of small RNAs
  • Discovery of novel biomarkers (miRNA discovery) for cancer, other diseases

Workflow - Methods & technologies for small RNA-seq

Unlike mRNA sequencing and whole RNA sequencing, small RNA sequencing enriches only RNAs and miRNAs with shorter nucleotide lengths. The small RNA targets are enriched through size selection using size-exclusion gels or commercially developed kits. Once the small RNA is isolated, linkers are added to the ends and the RNA is purified. This RNA is reverse transcribed into cDNA that is then treated according to standard RNA-seq procedures.

Scientific expertise: RNA-Seq

To support the increased research interest in small noncoding RNA, GATC Biotech has developed specialised workflows dedicated to small RNA sequencing. With our highly optimised method for NGS of small RNA and microRNA, GATC Biotech provides a simple and accurate approach to discovering and profiling RNA of smaller sizes. 


Find here, a list of selected research articles supported by GATC Biotech’s sequencing products, including articles on transcriptomics.

Products related to small RNA sequencing

Would you like to enhance your research on small RNA with next-generation sequencing? GATC Biotech offers small RNA sequencing (link), for novel miRNA and isomiRs discovery, small RNA profiling and extensive analysis of post-transcriptional regulation. Benefit from the simplicity and reliability of a full-service package that offers RNA isolation and size selection, library preparation, sequencing on the preferred Illumina platform and expert BioIT data analysis.

See how our INVIEW TRANSCRIPTOME products can help advance your transcriptome project or contact us for more information.

Are you interested in exploring the isoform diversity in your sample? Then take advantage of our INVIEW TRANSCRIPOME ISOFORM DISCOVER for sequencing of long transcripts and discover isoforms, novel genes or gene fusion events in prokaryotes and eukaryotes. If you are interested in other epigenetic mechanisms for gene regulation, explore our INVIEW EPIGENOME products or contact us with any questions.

Further reading on small RNA sequencing

Zhou, L., Li, X., Liu, Q, Zhao, F., Wu, J. Small RNA transcriptome investigation based on next-generation sequencing technology. J Genet Genomics. 38(11):505-13 (2011).

McCormick, K.P., Willmann, M.R., Meyers, B.C. Experimental design, preprocessing, normalization and differential expression analysis of small RNA sequencing experiments. Silence. 2(1):2 (2011).