The emerging role of lncRNAs in cancer

Nat Med. 2015 Nov;21(11):1253-61. doi: 10.1038/nm.3981.


It is increasingly evident that many of the genomic mutations in cancer reside inside regions that do not encode proteins. However, these regions are often transcribed into long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs). The recent application of next-generation sequencing to a growing number of cancer transcriptomes has indeed revealed thousands of lncRNAs whose aberrant expression is associated with different cancer types. Among the few that have been functionally characterized, several have been linked to malignant transformation. Notably, these lncRNAs have key roles in gene regulation and thus affect various aspects of cellular homeostasis, including proliferation, survival, migration or genomic stability. This review aims to summarize current knowledge of lncRNAs from the cancer perspective. It discusses the strategies that led to the identification of cancer-related lncRNAs and the methodologies and challenges involving the study of these molecules, as well as the imminent applications of these findings to the clinic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Gene Knockdown Techniques
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics*
  • Transcriptome


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • RNA, Long Noncoding