MicroRNAs as gatekeepers of apoptosis

J Cell Physiol. 2010 May;223(2):289-98. doi: 10.1002/jcp.22066.


Apoptosis is a well-orchestrated cellular mechanism that balances the effects of cell proliferation and cell death. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to control cell growth, differentiation, and apoptosis; and can be significantly deregulated in many cancers types. In fact, the ability to evade apoptosis is a hallmark of tumorigenesis. Although the role of miRNAs in the regulation of apoptosis is not fully understood, the recent influx of data strongly suggests that miRNAs play a significant role in regulating programmed cell death, or apoptosis. The genes involved in apoptotic pathways can be broadly classified as pro-apoptotic and anti-apoptotic. Many of these apoptotic genes, irrespective of their positive or negative functional role in apoptosis, are regulated by miRNAs. In this review, we discuss the emerging role of miRNA-mediated gene networks in the control of apoptosis.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Apoptosis / genetics*
  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins / genetics*
  • Cell Transformation, Neoplastic / genetics
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor / physiology
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Oncogenes / genetics
  • Signal Transduction / genetics*


  • Apoptosis Regulatory Proteins
  • MicroRNAs