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Curr Opin Investig Drugs. 2006 Jun;7(6):560-4.

MicroRNAs: small but potent oncogenes or tumor suppressors.

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University of Virginia, Department of Biochemistry & Molecular Genetics, 1300 Jefferson Park Avenue, Charlottesville, VA 22908, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that modulate the expression of target mRNA. Many miRNAs are known to be up- or downregulated in a variety of cancers, suggesting a role for miRNAs in tumorigenesis. The correlation between the expression of miRNAs and their effects on target oncogenes, on tumorigenesis and on the proliferation of cancer cells is beginning to gain experimental evidence. For example, the miRNA (miR)-17-92 cluster has been characterized as an oncogene, while let-7 represses Ras and miR-15a/-16-1 represses Bcl-2, thereby acting as tumor suppressors. Thus, an oncogenic or tumor suppressive miRNA may have potential as a therapeutic target to control cancers. This review will discuss the relationship between miRNAs and tumorigenesis, and the potential for modulating miRNAs for the treatment of cancer.

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