A network-biology perspective of microRNA function and dysfunction in cancer

Nat Rev Genet. 2016 Dec;17(12):719-732. doi: 10.1038/nrg.2016.134. Epub 2016 Oct 31.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) participate in most aspects of cellular differentiation and homeostasis, and consequently have roles in many pathologies, including cancer. These small non-coding RNAs exert their effects in the context of complex regulatory networks, often made all the more extensive by the inclusion of transcription factors as their direct targets. In recent years, the increased availability of gene expression data and the development of methodologies that profile miRNA targets en masse have fuelled our understanding of miRNA functions, and of the sources and consequences of miRNA dysregulation. Advances in experimental and computational approaches are revealing not just cancer pathways controlled by single miRNAs but also intermeshed regulatory networks controlled by multiple miRNAs, which often engage in reciprocal feedback interactions with the targets that they regulate.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Computational Biology / methods*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Regulatory Networks*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Models, Genetic
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / physiopathology*


  • MicroRNAs