MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of small non-coding regulatory RNAs. By pairing with target mRNAs, miRNAs could inhibit translation and/or lead to the cleavage or decay of mRNAs targeted. Due to the broad targeting ability, miRNAs play critical roles in regulating diverse biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. In normal cells, the expression of tumor-suppressor genes and oncogenes is tightly regulated by complex gene regulatory networks consisting of miRNAs. The disruption of such networks could lead to various kinds of diseases, including cancers. Due to the biological and medical significances, miRNA studies become an extremely active field, and the number of patent applications related to miRNAs is growing exponentially. This review summarizes some recent published patents and relevant research advances on computational prediction and experimental identification of miRNAs and their targets, along with the potential applications of miRNAs on cancer diagnosis and treatment.
Keywords: miRNAs, targets, algorithms, quantitation, real-time PCR, microarray, gene expression, tumor suppressor gene, oncogene, cancer
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