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Trends Genet. 2008 Dec;24(12):622-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.10.003. Epub 2008 Nov 6.

RNA polymerases I and III, non-coding RNAs and cancer.

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Beatson Institute for Cancer Research, Garscube Estate, Switchback Road, Bearsden, Glasgow, G61 1BD, UK.


Oncogenically transformed cells overexpress the non-coding RNAs, such as pre-ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA), which are produced by RNA polymerases (Pols) I and III. Recent results indicate that levels of pre-rRNA have prognostic value and that a tRNA has oncogenic potential. Transcription by Pols I and III is restrained in healthy cells by the tumour suppressors RB, p53, ARF and PTEN. Such restraints are compromised during cell transformation and the problem is accentuated by oncogene products, such as c-Myc, that stimulate the output of Pol I and Pol III. The resultant increases in rRNA and tRNA expression might promote the generation of cancers.

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