Gastrointestinal cancers such as colorectal, pancreatic, liver, gastric, and esophageal, are the most common forms of malignant cancers. MicroRNAs (miRNA) play important role in regulating gastrointestinal cancer progress either as potent oncogenes or tumor suppressors. In this report, we will discuss the importance of several tumor suppressors involved in colon or pancreatic cancer. Some recent studies on tumor stem cells and regulation of these miRNAs via agents targeting the tumor stem cell markers doublecortin-like kinase 1 (DCLK1), Musashi-1 (MSI1), polycomb protein BMI1, and WNT genes (LGR5 and ASCL2) will also be discussed. Agents such as siRNA/shRNA, small molecule kinase inhibitors, and general herbal drugs (curcumin) targeting these tumor stem cell markers and tumor suppressor miRNAs could be the perfect therapeutic agents for the treatment of these cancers.
Keywords: BMI1; DCLK1; LGR5; MSI1; Tumor stem cell markers; Tumor suppressor miRNAs.