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IEEE Trans Inf Technol Biomed. 2009 Jan;13(1):67-77. doi: 10.1109/TITB.2008.2007086.

MicroRNAs and cancer-the search begins!

Author information

1
Institute of Molecular Biology and Biotechnology, Foundation for Research and Technology-Hellas, Heraklion, Greece.

Abstract

For almost three decades, cancer was thought to result from changes in the structure and/or expression of protein coding genes. The discovery of thousands of genes that produce noncoding RNA (ncRNA) transcripts in the past few years suggested that the molecular biology of cancer is much more complex. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), an important group of ncRNAs, have recently been associated with tumorigenesis by acting either as tumor suppressors or oncogenes. Experimental prediction of miRNA genes is a slow process, because of the difficulties of cloning ncRNAs. Complementary to experimental approaches, a number of computational tools trained to recognize features of the biogenesis of miRNAs have significantly aided in the prediction of new miRNA candidates. By narrowing down the search space, computational approaches provide valuable clues as to which are the dominant features that characterize these regulatory units and which genes are their most likely targets. Moreover, through the use of high-throughput expression profiling methods, many molecular signatures of miRNA deregulation in human tumors have emerged. In this review, we present an overview of existing computational methods for identifying miRNA genes and assessing their expression levels, and analyze the contribution of such tools toward illuminating the role of miRNAs in cancer.

PMID:
19129025
DOI:
10.1109/TITB.2008.2007086
[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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