Caister Academic Press

The Role of MicroRNAs in Human Cancer

Yoshimasa Saito, Jeffrey M. Friedman, and Peter A. Jones
from: Epigenetics (Edited by: Jörg Tost). Caister Academic Press, U.K. (2008)


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function as endogenous regulators of numerous target genes. Hundreds of human miRNAs have been identified in the human genome. They are expressed in a tissue specific manner and play important roles in cell proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation during mammalian development. Links between miRNAs and human diseases are increasingly apparent and aberrant expression of miRNAs may contribute to the development and progression of human cancer. Some miRNAs play roles as tumor suppressors or oncogenes. Recent studies have demonstrated that miRNA expression is regulated by different mechanisms including transcription factor binding, epigenetic alterations, and chromosomal abnormalities. In particular, epigenetic alterations induced by chromatin modifying drugs or by genetic disruption of key DNA methyltransferases cause distinct changes in miRNA expression profiles in cancer cells. miRNA expression profiling might be a powerful clinical tool for cancer diagnosis and regulation of miRNA expression could be a therapeutic strategy for human disease including cancer. In this chapter, we will review the current literature on the biological importance of miRNAs while focusing on the role of miRNAs during human carcinogenesis read more ...
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