MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs of ∼22 nucleotides that regulate the translation and stability of mRNA to control different functions of the cell. Misexpression of miRNA has been linked to disruption of normal cellular functions, which results in various disorders including cancers such as leukemias. MicroRNA involvement in disease has been the subject of much attention and is increasing our current understanding of disease biology. Such linkages have been determined by high-throughput studies, which provide a framework for characterizing differential miRNA expression levels correlating to different cytogenetic abnormalities and their corresponding malignancies. In addition, functional studies of particular miRNAs have begun to define the effects of miRNA on predicted mRNA targets. It is clear that miRNAs can serve as molecular markers of leukemias and the hope is that they can also serve as new therapeutic targets. Studies are beginning to elucidate how to deliver therapeutic antagonists to attenuate overexpressed miRNAs and to replace underexpressed miRNAs. In this review, we: i) discuss the current understanding of miRNA function and expression in normal hematopoiesis, ii) provide examples of miRNAs that are misregulated in leukemias, and iii) evaluate the current status and potential future directions for the burgeoning field of antisense oligonucleotides and other therapeutic attempts to intervene in miRNA disregulation in leukemias.
Keywords: Antagomir, diagnostic, hematopoiesis, leukemia, miR, microRNA, therapeutic