Motivation: In practice, identifying and interpreting the functional impacts of the regulatory relationships between micro-RNA and messenger-RNA is non-trivial. The sheer scale of possible micro-RNA and messenger-RNA interactions can make the interpretation of results difficult.
Results: We propose a supervised framework, pMim, built upon concepts of significance combination, for jointly ranking regulatory micro-RNA and their potential functional impacts with respect to a condition of interest. Here, pMim directly tests if a micro-RNA is differentially expressed and if its predicted targets, which lie in a common biological pathway, have changed in the opposite direction. We leverage the information within existing micro-RNA target and pathway databases to stabilize the estimation and annotation of micro-RNA regulation making our approach suitable for datasets with small sample sizes. In addition to outputting meaningful and interpretable results, we demonstrate in a variety of datasets that the micro-RNA identified by pMim, in comparison to simpler existing approaches, are also more concordant with what is described in the literature.