Cross talk between microRNA and coding cancer genes.
ABSTRACT MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) and posttranscriptional gene regulators shown to be involved in pathogenesis of all types of human cancers. Their aberrant expression as tumor suppressors can lead to cancerogenesis by inhibiting malignant potential, or when acting as oncogenes, by activating malignant potential. Differential expression of miRNA genes in tumorous tissues can occur owing to several factors including positional effects when mapping to cancer-associated genomic regions, epigenetic mechanisms, and malfunctioning of the miRNA processing machinery, all of which can contribute to a complex miRNA-mediated gene network misregulation. They may increase or decrease expression of protein-coding genes, can target 3'-UTR or other genic regions (5'-UTR, promoter, coding sequences), and can function in various subcellular compartments, developmental, and metabolic processes. Because expanding research on miRNA-cancer associations has already produced large amounts of data, our main objective here was to summarize main findings and critically examine the intricate network connecting the miRNAs and coding genes in regulatory mechanisms and their function and phenotypic consequences for cancer. By examining such interactions, we aimed to gain insights for the development of new diagnostic markers as well as identification of potential venues for more selective tumor therapy. To enable efficient examination of the main past and current miRNA discoveries, we developed a Web-based miRNA timeline tool that will be regularly updated (http://www.integratomics-time.com/miRNA_timeline). Further development of this tool will be directed at providing additional analyses to clarify complex network interactions between miRNAs, other classes of ncRNAs, and protein-coding genes and their involvement in development of diseases including cancer. This tool therefore provides curated relevant information about the miRNA basic research and therapeutic application all at hand on one site to help researchers and clinicians in making informed decision about their miRNA cancer-related research or clinical practice.