MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding endogenous RNAs ∼22 nucleotides (nt) in length that may play the essential roles for regulation of programed cell death, referring to apoptosis and autophagy. Of note, autophagy is an evolutionarily conserved, multi-step lysosomal degradation process in which a cell degrades long-lived proteins and damaged organelles. Accumulating evidence has recently revealed that miRNAs can modulate the autophagic pathways in many pathological processes, most notably cancer. In this review, we focus on highlighting the dual functions of miRNAs as either oncogenes (e.g., miRNA-183, miRNA-376b, miRNA-106a, miRNA-221/222, miRNA-31 and miRNA-34c) or tumor suppressors (e.g., miRNA-30a, miRNA-101 and miRNA-9*) via mediating several autophagic signaling pathways in cancer pathogenesis. Taken together, these findings may uncover the regulatory mechanisms of oncogenic and tumor suppressive miRNAs in autophagy, which would provide a better understanding of miRNA-modulated autophagic signaling networks for future cancer therapeutics.
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