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Semin Cancer Biol. 2008 Apr;18(2):103-10. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2008.01.008. Epub 2008 Jan 16.

miRNAs: Little known mediators of oncogenesis.

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Department of Medicine, University of Illinois at Chicago, 840, South Wood Street, Room 1041, Chicago, IL 60612, United States.


Cancer progression is mediated by overexpression of oncogenes and downregulation or loss of tumor suppressors. Proteins, which were traditionally categorized into these groups, have been recently joined by a species of RNA molecules known as microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs belong to a class of approximately 22-nt-long non-coding RNAs found in eukaryotes that hinder gene expression by inducing degradation or inhibiting translation of select mRNAs. A growing number of miRNAs have been implicated in promoting or suppressing tumorigenesis in a variety of tissues. The supporting evidence ranges from suggestive expression profiling data to direct functional validation using methods of forward and reverse genetics. We discuss the nature of published results, as well as the merits and pitfalls of various approaches aimed at identification of cancer-related miRNAs and their mRNA targets.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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