MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-protein-coding RNA that negatively control mRNA expression at a posttranscriptional level. They regulate various cellular functions and bioinformatic data suggest that they collectively control about 30% of human mRNAs. MiRNAs have been recently implicated in several carcinogenic processes, where they can act either as oncogenes or as tumor suppressors. This is the case in lung cancer, i.e. the leading cause of cancer deaths in Western countries, in which about 40-45 miRNAs have been found to be aberrantly expressed, thereby constituting a specific miRNA signature. Some of these miRNAs can play an important role in lung carcinogenesis. Indeed, some transcripts of the let-7 family that are significantly down-regulated in lung tumors have been identified as tumor suppressors through their ability to control several oncogenic pathways, including the RAS pathway. Identification of a growing number of other potential oncogenic or tumor suppressor miRNAs in lung cancers is in constant progress. Recent evidence supports the use of specific miRNA signatures to predict clinical outcome. This review aims to report the current knowledge about the role of miRNAs in lung cancer carcinogenesis, their potential for improving diagnosis and prognosis and their impact on future therapeutic strategies.
Keywords: Lung, cancer, microRNA, prognosis, diagnosis, therapeutic target
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