Transforming growth factor-beta and microRNA:mRNA regulatory networks in epithelial plasticity

Cells Tissues Organs. 2007;185(1-3):157-61. doi: 10.1159/000101316.


Noncoding microRNAs act as posttranscriptional repressors of gene function and are often deregulated in cancers and other diseases. Here we review recent findings on microRNA roles in tumorigenesis and report a microRNA profiling screen in transforming growth factor-beta1 (TGF-beta)-induced epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) in human keratinocytes, a model of epithelial cell plasticity underlying epidermal injury and skin carcinogenesis. We describe a novel EMT-specific microRNA signature that includes induction of miR-21, a candidate oncogenic microRNA associated with carcinogenesis. By integrating the microRNA screen results with target prediction algorithms and gene expression profiling data, we outline a framework for TGF-beta-directed microRNA:messenger RNA (mRNA) regulatory circuitry and discuss its biological relevance for tumor progression.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Animals
  • Epithelial Cells / cytology*
  • Epithelial Cells / metabolism
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Keratinocytes / cytology
  • Mesoderm / cytology*
  • Mesoderm / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Skin Neoplasms / etiology
  • Skin Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Skin Neoplasms / pathology
  • Time Factors
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta / pharmacology*


  • MicroRNAs
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta