MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of ∼22 nucleotide short noncoding RNAs that play key roles in fundamental cellular processes, including how cells respond to changes in environment or, broadly defined, stresses. Responding to stresses, cells either choose to restore or reprogram their gene expression patterns. This decision is partly mediated by miRNA functions, in particular by modulating the amount of miRNAs, the amount of mRNA targets, or the activity/mode of action of miRNA-protein complexes. In turn, these changes determine the specificity, timing, and concentration of gene products expressed upon stresses. Dysregulation of these processes contributes to chronic diseases, including cancers.
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