MicroRNA regulation of cancer stem cells and therapeutic implications

AAPS J. 2009 Dec;11(4):682-92. doi: 10.1208/s12248-009-9147-7. Epub 2009 Oct 20.

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous non-protein-coding RNAs that function as important regulatory molecules by negatively regulating gene and protein expression via the RNA interference (RNAi) machinery. MiRNAs have been implicated to control a variety of cellular, physiological, and developmental processes. Aberrant expressions of miRNAs are connected to human diseases such as cancer. Cancer stem cells are a small subpopulation of cells identified in a variety of tumors that are capable of self-renewal and differentiation. Dysregulation of stem cell self-renewal is a likely requirement for the initiation and formation of cancer. Furthermore, cancer stem cells are a very likely cause of resistance to current cancer treatments, as well as relapse in cancer patients. Understanding the biology and pathways involved with cancer stem cells offers great promise for developing better cancer therapies, and might one day even provide a cure for cancer. Emerging evidence demonstrates that miRNAs are involved in cancer stem cell dysregulation. Recent studies also suggest that miRNAs play a critical role in carcinogenesis and oncogenesis by regulating cell proliferation and apoptosis as oncogenes or tumor suppressors, respectively. Therefore, molecularly targeted miRNA therapy could be a powerful tool to correct the cancer stem cell dysregulation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Gene Silencing
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis
  • MicroRNAs / pharmacology*
  • MicroRNAs / therapeutic use*
  • Neoplasms / therapy*
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / drug effects*
  • Signal Transduction / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / physiology

Substances

  • MicroRNAs