The role and clinical implications of microRNAs in hepatocellular carcinoma
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- Zhao, X., Yang, Z., Li, G. et al. Sci. China Life Sci. (2012) 55: 906. doi:10.1007/s11427-012-4384-x
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Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is common and one of the most aggressive of all human cancers. Recent studies have indicated that miRNAs, a class of small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally, directly contribute to HCC by targeting many critical regulatory genes. Several miRNAs are involved in hepatitis B or hepatitis C virus replication and virus-induced changes, whereas others participate in multiple intracellular signaling pathways that modulate apoptosis, cell cycle checkpoints, and growth-factor-stimulated responses. When disturbed, these pathways appear to result in malignant transformation and ultimately HCC development. Recently, miRNAs circulating in the blood have acted as possible early diagnostic markers for HCC. These miRNA also could serve as indicators with respect to drug efficacy and be prognostic in HCC patients. Such biomarkers would assist stratification of HCC patients and help direct personalized therapy. Here, we summarize recent advances regarding the role of miRNAs in HCC development and progression. Our expectation is that these and ongoing studies will contribute to the understanding of the multiple roles of these small noncoding RNAs in liver tumorigenesis.