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Int J Cell Biol. 2014;2014:473857. doi: 10.1155/2014/473857. Epub 2014 Jan 30.

LncRNAs: New Players in Apoptosis Control.

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Pasteur Institute-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Department of Cellular Biotechnologies and Hematology, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale Regina Elena 324, 00161 Rome, Italy.
Pasteur Institute-Fondazione Cenci Bolognetti, Department of Molecular Medicine, Sapienza University of Rome, Viale Regina Elena 291, 00161 Rome, Italy.


The discovery that the mammalian genome is largely transcribed and that almost half of the polyadenylated RNAs is composed of noncoding RNAs has attracted the attention of the scientific community. Growing amount of data suggests that long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) are a new class of regulators involved not only in physiological processes, such as imprinting and differentiation, but also in cancer progression and neurodegeneration. Apoptosis is a well regulated type of programmed cell death necessary for correct organ development and tissue homeostasis. Indeed, cancer cells often show an inhibition of the apoptotic pathways and it is now emerging that overexpression or downregulation of different lncRNAs in specific types of tumors sensitize cancer cells to apoptotic stimuli. In this review we summarize the latest studies on lncRNAs and apoptosis with major attention to those performed in cancer cells and in healthy cells upon differentiation. We discuss the new perspectives of using lncRNAs as targets of anticancer drugs. Finally, considering that lncRNA levels have been reported to have a correlation with specific cancer types, we argue the possibility of using lncRNAs as tumor biomarkers.

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