microRNA(interference) Networks Are Embedded in the Gene Regulatory Networks

Cell Cycle. 2008 Aug 15;7(16):2458-61. doi: 10.4161/cc.7.16.6455. Epub 2008 Aug 17.


microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous 22-25 nt single-stranded RNA molecules that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. They are highly conserved among species with distinct temporal and spatial patterns of expression, each of them potentially interacting with hundreds of messenger RNAs. Since miRNAs, like transcription factors (TFs), are trans-acting factors that interact with cis-regulatory elements, they potentially generate a complex combinatorial code. Moreover, as TFs and genes containing binding sites for TFs have a high probability of being targeted by miRNAs, the basic interplay miRNA/TF renders miRNAs key components of gene regulatory networks. Several biological processes, including diseases such as cancer, have been causatively associated to disturbances of miRNAs/TF interplay both in vitro and in vivo. These aspects, cumulatively, indicate that miRNAs and transcription factors have a crucial role in determining cellular behaviour, highlighting the role of small RNA molecules in regulatory mechanisms and indicating other routes in the evolutionary path of gene expression.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Cellular Senescence / genetics
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Transcription Factors / genetics
  • Transcription Factors / metabolism*


  • MicroRNAs
  • Transcription Factors