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Hum Mol Genet. 2010 Oct 15;19(R2):R152-61. doi: 10.1093/hmg/ddq353. Epub 2010 Aug 20.

Large non-coding RNAs: missing links in cancer?

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The Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, Cambridge, MA 02142, USA.


Cellular homeostasis is achieved by the proper balance of regulatory networks that if disrupted can lead to cellular transformation. These cell circuits are fine-tuned and maintained by the coordinated function of proteins and non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs). In addition to the well-characterized protein coding and microRNAs constituents, large ncRNAs are also emerging as important regulatory molecules in tumor-suppressor and oncogenic pathways. Recent studies have revealed mechanistic insight of large ncRNAs regulating key cancer pathways at a transcriptional, post-transcriptional and epigenetic level. Here we synthesize these latest advances within the context of their mechanistic roles in regulating and maintaining cellular equilibrium. We posit that similar to protein-coding genes, large ncRNAs are a newly emerging class of oncogenic and tumor-suppressor genes. Our growing knowledge of the role of large ncRNAs in cellular transformation is pointing towards their potential use as biomarkers and targets for novel therapeutic approaches in the future.

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