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Semin Oncol. 2011 Dec;38(6):743-51. doi: 10.1053/j.seminoncol.2011.08.003.

MicroRNAs in mutagenesis, genomic instability, and DNA repair.

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Department of Hematology, Yale University School of Medicine and the Yale Cancer Center, New Haven, CT, USA.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are aiding our understanding of cancer biology, and are now coming close to therapeutic use as well. Here, we focus specifically on the interaction between miRNAs and genomic instability. MiRNA regulation is essential to many cellular processes, and escape from this regulatory network seems to be a common characteristic of malignant transformation. Genomic instability may preferentially target miRNAs either because of selective pressure or because of inherent vulnerability related to their location near fragile sites. Furthermore, disruption of miRNA processing elements affords a more global release from miRNA regulation. Finally, we review how miRNAs function as both effectors and modulators of the DNA damage response, intricately weaved with traditional elements such as ATM, P53, and MMR. Thus, miRNAs are important substrates for genomic instability and play a crucial role in cellular DNA sensing and repair mechanisms.

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