Micropeptides: potential treatment strategies for cancer

Cancer Cell Int. 2024 Apr 15;24(1):134. doi: 10.1186/s12935-024-03281-w.


Some noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) carry open reading frames (ORFs) that can be translated into micropeptides, although noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) have been previously assumed to constitute a class of RNA transcripts without coding capacity. Furthermore, recent studies have revealed that ncRNA-derived micropeptides exhibit regulatory functions in the development of many tumours. Although some of these micropeptides inhibit tumour growth, others promote it. Understanding the role of ncRNA-encoded micropeptides in cancer poses new challenges for cancer research, but also offers promising prospects for cancer therapy. In this review, we summarize the types of ncRNAs that can encode micropeptides, highlighting recent technical developments that have made it easier to research micropeptides, such as ribosome analysis, mass spectrometry, bioinformatics methods, and CRISPR/Cas9. Furthermore, based on the distribution of micropeptides in different subcellular locations, we explain the biological functions of micropeptides in different human cancers and discuss their underestimated potential as diagnostic biomarkers and anticancer therapeutic targets in clinical applications, information that may contribute to the discovery and development of new micropeptide-based tools for early diagnosis and anticancer drug development.

Keywords: Cancer; Micropeptide; Noncoding RNAs; Subcellular localization.

Publication types

  • Review