MicroRNA dysregulations in Merkel cell carcinoma: Molecular mechanisms and clinical applications

J Med Virol. 2023 Jan;95(1):e28375. doi: 10.1002/jmv.28375.


Merkel cell carcinoma (MCC) is an aggressive skin malignancy with two distinct etiologies. The first, which accounts for the highest proportion, is caused by Merkel cell polyomavirus (MCPyV), a DNA tumor virus. A second, UV-induced, MCC form has also been identified. Few MCC diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic options are available. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNA molecules, which play a key role in regulating various physiologic cellular functions including cell cycling, proliferation, differentiation, and apoptosis. Numerous miRNAs are dysregulated in cancer, by acting as either tumor suppressors or oncomiRs. The aim of this review is to collect, summarize, and discuss recent findings on miRNAs whose dysregulation has been assumed to play a role in MCC. The potential clinical application of miRNAs as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in MCC is also described. In the future, miRNAs will potentially gain clinical significance for the improvement of MCC diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic options.

Keywords: Merkel cell carcinoma; Merkel cell polyomavirus; epigenetics; miRNA; microRNA.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell* / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Merkel Cell* / genetics
  • Humans
  • Merkel cell polyomavirus* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • Polyomavirus Infections* / diagnosis
  • Polyomavirus Infections* / genetics
  • Skin Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Skin Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Tumor Virus Infections* / diagnosis


  • MicroRNAs