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Mol Cell Biol. 2013 Oct;33(20):3976-82. doi: 10.1128/MCB.00683-13. Epub 2013 Aug 5.

Emerging roles of competing endogenous RNAs in cancer: insights from the regulation of PTEN.

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  • 1Division of Oncology, Department of Surgery and Cancer, Imperial Centre for Translational and Experimental Medicine, Imperial College, London, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The capacity of noncoding RNA to regulate gene expression in health and disease is epitomized by the microRNAs, small ∼22-nucleotide RNAs that target mRNAs to repress their translation into protein. Recently a previously unrecognized gene regulatory layer has emerged, characterized by the ability of a wide range of RNA transcripts to vie for microRNA binding and alleviate the repressive effect of microRNAs on their mRNA targets. Termed competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs), these participate in a microRNA-dependent cross talk, producing robust networks that when perturbed may lead to cancer. To date, the tumor suppressor PTEN has been most extensively validated as competing with a variety of ceRNAs in different cancers: reducing these ceRNAs appears to reduce PTEN levels, tipping cells toward cancer progression. In this review we look at ceRNA networks in cancer, their characteristics, and constituent parts, focusing on the insights that can be gained from the studies conducted on PTEN. We also explore the conditions that facilitate ceRNA cross talk, proposing that the disruption of these conditions may represent a general phenomenon in carcinogenesis.

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