MicroRNAs (miRNAs) represent a new class of small noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs, RNAs that do not codify for proteins) that can regulate gene expression by targeting messenger RNAs of protein coding genes and other ncRNA transcripts. miRNAs were recently found to be involved in the pathophysiology of all types of analyzed human cancers mainly by aberrant gene expression. This is characterized by abnormal levels of expression for mature and/or precursor miRNA transcripts in comparison to the corresponding normal tissues. miRNA profiling has allowed the identification of signatures associated with diagnosis, prognosis and response to treatment of human tumors. Therefore, miRNAs fingerprinting represents a new addition to the tools to be used by medical oncologists.
(c) 2007 Wiley-Liss, Inc.