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Front Genet. 2011 Sep 16;2:66. doi: 10.3389/fgene.2011.00066. eCollection 2011.

MicroRNAs in Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Cancers.

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Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Department of Internal Medicine, School of Medicine, Keio University Tokyo, Japan.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function as endogenous silencers of numerous target genes. Hundreds of miRNAs have been identified in the human genome. miRNAs are expressed in a tissue-specific manner and play important roles in cell proliferation, apoptosis, and differentiation. Aberrant expression of miRNAs may also contribute to the development and progression of human hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers. Recent studies have shown that some miRNAs play roles as tumor suppressors or oncogenes in hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers. miR-122, let-7 family, and miR-101 are down-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), suggesting that it is a potential tumor suppressor of HCC. miR-221 and miR-222 are up-regulated in HCC and may act as oncogenic miRNAs in hepatocarcinogenesis. miRNA expression profiling may be a powerful clinical tool for diagnosis and regulation of miRNA expression could be a novel therapeutic strategy for hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers. In this review, we summarize current knowledge about the roles of important tumor suppressor microRNAs and oncogenic microRNAs in hepatobiliary and pancreatic cancers.


cholangiocarcinoma; epigenetics; hepatocellular carcinoma; microRNA; oncogene; pancreatic cancer; tumor suppressor

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