MicroRNA regulation of cancer stem cells in the pathogenesis of breast cancer

Cancer Cell Int. 2021 Jan 7;21(1):31. doi: 10.1186/s12935-020-01716-8.


Breast cancer is the most common cancer among women and accounts for 30% of all female malignancies worldwide. Breast cancer stem cells (BCSCs) are a small population of breast cancer cells that exhibit multiple characteristics including differentiation capacity, self-renewal and therapeutic resistance. Recently, BCSCs have attracted attention due to their modulation of breast tumor behaviors and drug resistance. miRNAs are small noncoding mRNAs involved in virtually all biological processes, including stem cell development, maintenance and differentiation. In breast cancer, miRNAs appear to be multi-faceted since they can act as either suppressors or oncogenes to regulate breast cancer progression. This review summarizes the critical roles of miRNAs in regulating multiple signaling pathways such as Wnt/β-catenin, Notch, PI3K/AKT/mTOR, BMI-1 and STAT3 that are important for the BCSC maintenance.

Keywords: Breast cancer; Breast cancer stem cell (BCSC); Self-renewal; Therapeutic resistance; miRNA.

Publication types

  • Review