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Front Physiol. 2016 Aug 8;7:342. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2016.00342. eCollection 2016.

Insights into the Regulatory Role of Non-coding RNAs in Cancer Metabolism.

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Cancer Genomics Laboratory, National Institute of Genomic Medicine Mexico City, Mexico.


Cancer represents a complex disease originated from alterations in several genes leading to disturbances in important signaling pathways in tumor biology, favoring heterogeneity that promotes adaptability and pharmacological resistance of tumor cells. Metabolic reprogramming has emerged as an important hallmark of cancer characterized by the presence of aerobic glycolysis, increased glutaminolysis and fatty acid biosynthesis, as well as an altered mitochondrial energy production. The metabolic switches that support energetic requirements of cancer cells are closely related to either activation of oncogenes or down-modulation of tumor-suppressor genes, finally leading to dysregulation of cell proliferation, metastasis and drug resistance signals. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) have emerged as one important kind of molecules that can regulate altered genes contributing, to the establishment of metabolic reprogramming. Moreover, diverse metabolic signals can regulate ncRNA expression and activity at genetic, transcriptional, or epigenetic levels. The regulatory landscape of ncRNAs may provide a new approach for understanding and treatment of different types of malignancies. In this review we discuss the regulatory role exerted by ncRNAs on metabolic enzymes and pathways involved in glucose, lipid, and amino acid metabolism. We also review how metabolic stress conditions and tumoral microenvironment influence ncRNA expression and activity. Furthermore, we comment on the therapeutic potential of metabolism-related ncRNAs in cancer.


cancer metabolism; metabolic reprogramming; miRNAs; ncRNA regulation

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