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Clin Cancer Res. 2008 Jan 15;14(2):360-5. doi: 10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-0992.

MicroRNAs as prognostic indicators and therapeutic targets: potential effect on breast cancer management.

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1
Department of Surgery, National University of Ireland, Galway, Ireland.

Abstract

The discovery of microRNAs (miRNA) as novel modulators of gene expression has resulted in a rapidly expanding repertoire of molecules in this family, as reflected in the concomitant expansion of scientific literature. MiRNAs are a category of naturally occurring RNA molecules that play important regulatory roles in plants and animals by targeting mRNAs for cleavage or translational repression. Characteristically, miRNAs are noncoding, single-stranded short (18-22 nucleotides) RNAs, features which possibly explain why they had not been intensively investigated until recently. Accumulating experimental evidence indicates that miRNAs play a pivotal role in many cellular functions via the regulation of gene expression. Furthermore, their dysregulation and/or mutation has been shown in carcinogenesis. We provide a brief review of miRNA biogenesis and discuss the technical challenges of modifying experimental techniques to facilitate the identification and characterization of these small RNAs. MiRNA function and their involvement in malignancy, particularly their putative role as oncogenes or tumor suppressors is also discussed, with a specific emphasis on breast cancer. Finally, we comment on the potential role of miRNAs in breast cancer management, particularly in improving current prognostic tools and achieving the goal of individualized cancer treatment.

PMID:
18223209
DOI:
10.1158/1078-0432.CCR-07-0992
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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