MicroRNAs: pivotal regulators in acute myeloid leukemia

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MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs that are 19–22 nucleotides in length and regulate a variety of biological processes at the post-transcriptional level. MicroRNA dysregulation disrupts normal biological processes, resulting in tumorigenesis. Acute myeloid leukemia is an invasive hematological malignancy characterized by the abnormal proliferation and differentiation of immature myeloid cells. Due to the low 5-year survival rate, there is an urgent need to discover novel diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets. In recent years, microRNAs have been shown to play important roles in hematological malignancies by acting as tumor suppressors and oncogenes. MicroRNAs have the potential to be a breakthrough in the diagnosis and treatment of acute myeloid leukemia. In this review, we summarize the biology of microRNAs and discuss the relationships between microRNA dysregulation and acute myeloid leukemia in the following aspects: signaling pathways, the abnormal biological behavior of acute myeloid leukemia cells, the clinical application of microRNAs and competing endogenous RNA regulatory networks.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2
Fig. 3



Acute lymphocytic leukemia


Acute myeloid leukemia


Acute promyelocytic leukemia


Area under curve


B cell acute lymphocytic leukemia


Bone marrow


Cytogenetically abnormal acute leukemia


Competing endogenous RNA


Circular RNAs


Chronic lymphoid leukemia


Cytogenetically normal acute myeloid leukemia


Complete remission


Disease-free survival


Event-free survival


The homeobox transcription factor


The hematopoietic stem and progenitor cell


Leukemia-free survival


Long non-coding RNAs


Leukemia stem cells




Mitogen-activated protein kinase


Mixed lineage leukemia


Overall survival


Primary miRNA transcripts


Peripheral blood mononuclear cells


Recurrence rate


T cell acute lymphoblastic leukemia.


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HZG provided direction and guidance throughout the preparation of this manuscript. MYL drafted the manuscript. HZG and XLC reviewed and made significant revisions to the manuscript. All authors have read and approved the final manuscript.

Correspondence to Hongzai Guan.

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Li, M., Cui, X. & Guan, H. MicroRNAs: pivotal regulators in acute myeloid leukemia. Ann Hematol (2020).

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  • MicroRNAs
  • Acute myeloid leukemia
  • Leukemogenesis
  • Biomarkers
  • Therapeutic targets
  • ceRNA