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Cross-kingdom herbal miRNA was first reported in 2012. Using a modified herbal extraction protocol, we obtained 73,677,287 sequences by RNA-seq from 245 traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM), of which 20,758,257 were unique sequences. We constructed a Bencao (herbal) small RNA (sRNA) Atlas ( ), annotated the sequences by sequence-based clustering, and created a nomenclature system for Bencao sRNAs. The profiles of 21,757 miRNAs in the Atlas were highly consistent with those of plant miRNAs in miRBase. Using software tools, our results demonstrated that all human genes might be regulated by sRNAs from the Bencao sRNA Atlas, part of the predicted human target genes were experimentally validated, suggesting that Bencao sRNAs might be one of the main bioactive components of herbal medicines. We established roadmaps for oligonucleotide drugs development and optimization of TCM prescriptions. Moreover, the decoctosome, a lipo-nano particle consisting of 0.5%-2.5% of the decoction, demonstrated potent medical effects. We propose a Bencao (herbal) Index, including small-molecule compounds (SM), protein peptides (P), nucleic acid (N), non-nucleic and non-proteinogenic large-molecule compounds (LM) and elements from Mendeleev's periodic table (E), to quantitatively measure the medical effects of botanic medicine. The Bencao sRNA Atlas is a resource for developing gene-targeting oligonucleotide drugs and optimizing botanical medicine, and may provide potential remedies for the theory and practice of one medicine.

Original publication




Journal article


Science China. Life sciences

Publication Date



State Key Laboratory of Common Mechanism Research for Major Diseases, Department of Biochemistry, Institute of Basic Medical Sciences, Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, School of Basic Medicine Peking Union Medical College, Beijing, 100005, China.