Collecting representative sets of cancer microRNAs (miRs) from the literature we show that their corresponding families are enriched in sets of highly interacting miR families. Targeting cancer genes on a statistically significant level, such cancer miR families strongly intervene with signaling pathways that harbor numerous cancer genes. Clustering miR family-specific profiles of pathway intervention, we found that different miR families share similar interaction patterns. Resembling corresponding patterns of cancer miRs families, such interaction patterns may indicate a miR family's potential role in cancer. As we find that the number of targeted cancer genes is a naïve proxy for a cancer miR family, we design a simple method to predict candidate miR families based on gene-specific interaction profiles. Assessing the impact of miR families to distinguish between (non-)cancer genes, we predict a set of 84 potential candidate families, including 75 of initially collected cancer miR families. Further confirming their relevance, predicted cancer miR families are significantly indicated in increasing, non-random numbers of tumor types.
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