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Trends Genet. 2010 Jun;26(6):253-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2010.03.006. Epub 2010 Apr 22.

Repression of transposable-elements - a microRNA anti-cancer defense mechanism?

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  • 1Molecular Genetics Department, Weizmann Institute of Science, Rehovot, Israel. reuts@mit.edu

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) appear to be key players in the maintenance of genomic integrity. Recent evidence implies that cancers often avoid miRNA-mediated regulation, and global repression of miRNAs is associated with increased tumorigenicity. Here we suggest that miRNAs are directly involved in the maintenance of genomic integrity through global repression of transposable elements (TEs), whose expression and transposition are well-documented causes of genomic instability in mammalian somatic tissues. Hence, one outcome of the tumor's ability to avoid miRNA-mediated regulation might be the enhancement of genomic instability and mutability due to derepression of TEs. We outline possible mechanisms underlying TE repression by miRNAs, including post-transcriptional silencing and transcriptional silencing through DNA and histone methylation. This hypothesis calls into consideration the need to study the role of miRNAs and the RNAi machinery in the nucleus, and specifically their impact on the maintenance of genomic integrity in the context of cancer.

Copyright 2010 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

PMID:
20417576
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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