MicroRNA-21's role in PTEN suppression and PI3K/AKT activation: Implications for cancer biology

Pathol Res Pract. 2024 Feb:254:155091. doi: 10.1016/j.prp.2024.155091. Epub 2024 Jan 3.


MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) was recognized as a key figure in the intricate web of tumor biology, with a prominent role in regulating the PTEN tumor suppressor gene and the PI3K/AKT cascade. This review elucidates the multifaceted interactions between miR-21, PTEN, and the PI3K/AKT signaling, shedding light on their profound implications in cancer initiation, progression, and therapeutic strategies. The core of this review delves into the mechanical intricacies of miR-21-mediated PTEN suppression and its consequent impact on PI3K/AKT pathway activation. It explores how miR-21, as an oncogenic miRNA, targets PTEN directly or indirectly, resulting in uncontrolled activation of PI3K/AKT, fostering cancerous cell survival, proliferation, and evasion of apoptosis. Furthermore, the abstract emphasizes the clinical relevance of these molecular interactions, discussing their implications in various cancer types, prognostic significance, and potential as therapeutic targets. The review provides insights into ongoing research efforts to develop miR-21 inhibitors and strategies to restore PTEN function, offering new avenues for cancer treatment. This article illuminates the critical function of miR-21 in PTEN suppression and PI3K/AKT activation, offering profound insights into its implications for cancer biology and the potential for targeted interventions.

Keywords: Cancer; Epigenetics; MicroRNA-21; PI3K/AKT; PTEN.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Biology
  • Cell Line, Tumor
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Neoplasms* / genetics
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / genetics
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / metabolism
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / metabolism
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / metabolism
  • Signal Transduction / physiology


  • MicroRNAs
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human
  • MIRN21 microRNA, human