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The microcosmos of cancer

Abstract

The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) almost two decades ago established a new paradigm of gene regulation. During the past ten years these tiny non-coding RNAs have been linked to virtually all known physiological and pathological processes, including cancer. In the same way as certain key protein-coding genes, miRNAs can be deregulated in cancer, in which they can function as a group to mark differentiation states or individually as bona fide oncogenes or tumour suppressors. Importantly, miRNA biology can be harnessed experimentally to investigate cancer phenotypes or used therapeutically as a target for drugs or as the drug itself.

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Figure 1: Mechanisms of miRNA perturbation in cancer.
Figure 2: Contribution of miRNAs to cancer pathways.
Figure 3: In vivo miRNA expression or inhibition 'á la carte'.
Figure 4: Proposed scheme for the treatment of liver cancer with combined chemotherapy and miRNA-based therapy.

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Acknowledgements

We apologize to all colleagues whose work could not be cited owing to space restrictions. We thank L. Dow, A. Ventura, A. Saborowski and V. Aranda for their comments on the manuscript, and G. Hannon and L. He for the many discussions. A.L. is supported by an EMBO Long-Term Fellowship. S.W.L. is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute investigator.

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Lujambio, A., Lowe, S. The microcosmos of cancer. Nature 482, 347–355 (2012). https://doi.org/10.1038/nature10888

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