With the advent of next generation sequencing techniques a previously unknown world of non-coding RNA molecules have been discovered. Non-coding RNA transcripts likely outnumber the group of protein coding sequences and hold promise of many new discoveries and mechanistic explanations for essential biological phenomena and pathologies. The best characterized non-coding RNA family consists in humans of about 1400 microRNAs for which abundant evidence have demonstrated fundamental importance in normal development, differentiation, growth control and in human diseases such as cancer. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge and concepts concerning the involvement of microRNAs in cancer, which have emerged from the study of cell culture and animal model systems, including the regulation of key cancer-related pathways, such as cell cycle control and the DNA damage response. Importantly, microRNA molecules are already entering the clinic as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers for patient stratification and also as therapeutic targets and agents.
Copyright © 2012 Federation of European Biochemical Societies. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.