Whole-transcriptome analyses have revealed that a large proportion of the human genome is transcribed in non-protein-coding transcripts, designated as long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs). Rather than being "transcriptional noise", increasing evidence indicates that lncRNAs are key players in the regulation of many biological processes, including transcription, post-translational modification and inhibition and chromatin remodeling. Indeed, lncRNAs are widely dysregulated in human cancers, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Functional studies are beginning to provide insights into the role of oncogenic and tumor suppressive lncRNAs in the regulation of cell proliferation and motility, as well as oncogenic and metastatic potential in HCC. A better understanding of the molecular mechanisms and the complex network of interactions in which lncRNAs are involved could reveal novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers. Crucially, it may provide novel therapeutic opportunities to add to the currently limited number of therapeutic options for HCC patients. In this review, we summarize the current status of the field, with a focus on the best characterized dysregulated lncRNAs in HCC.
Keywords: carcinogenesis; hepatocellular carcinoma; liver cancer; long non-coding RNA.