microRNA involvement in human cancer.


When, ∼20 years ago, investigators first determined that components of the genome considered nonfunctional had, in fact, gene regulatory capacity, they probably had no idea of their potential in controlling cell fate and were forced to revise and somehow reorganize their view of the molecular biology. Indeed, it is currently well documented how a class of small non-coding RNAs, microRNAs, are conserved among the species, expressed in different tissues and cell types and involved in almost every biological process, including cell cycle, growth, apoptosis, differentiation and stress response, exerting a finely tuned regulation of gene expression by targeting multiple molecules. As a consequence of the widespread range of processes they are able to influence, it is not surprising that miRNA deregulation is a hallmark of several pathological conditions, including cancer. Indeed, the aberrant expression of these tiny molecules in human tumors is not just a casual association, but they can exert a causal role, as oncogenes or tumor suppressors, in different steps of the tumorigenic process, from initiation and development to progression toward the acquisition of a metastatic phenotype. An increasing body of evidence has indeed proved the importance of miRNAs in cancer, suggesting their possible use as diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers and leading to exploit miRNA-based anticancer therapies, either alone or in combination with current targeted therapies, with the goal to improve disease response and increase cure rates. Here, we review our current knowledge about miRNA involvement in cancer.

  • Croce CM
  • Iorio MV
PubMed ID
Appears In
Carcinogenesis, 2012, 33 (6)