RNA polymerases I and III, non-coding RNAs and cancer

Trends Genet. 2008 Dec;24(12):622-9. doi: 10.1016/j.tig.2008.10.003. Epub 2008 Nov 6.


Oncogenically transformed cells overexpress the non-coding RNAs, such as pre-ribosomal RNA (rRNA) and transfer RNA (tRNA), which are produced by RNA polymerases (Pols) I and III. Recent results indicate that levels of pre-rRNA have prognostic value and that a tRNA has oncogenic potential. Transcription by Pols I and III is restrained in healthy cells by the tumour suppressors RB, p53, ARF and PTEN. Such restraints are compromised during cell transformation and the problem is accentuated by oncogene products, such as c-Myc, that stimulate the output of Pol I and Pol III. The resultant increases in rRNA and tRNA expression might promote the generation of cancers.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / enzymology*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Protein Biosynthesis
  • RNA Polymerase I / metabolism*
  • RNA Polymerase III / metabolism*
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics*
  • ras Proteins / metabolism


  • RNA, Untranslated
  • RNA Polymerase I
  • RNA Polymerase III
  • ras Proteins