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Cancer and Metastasis Reviews

, Volume 37, Issue 1, pp 5–15 | Cite as

MicroRNAs and metastasis: small RNAs play big roles

  • Jongchan Kim
  • Fan Yao
  • Zhenna Xiao
  • Yutong SunEmail author
  • Li MaEmail author
Article

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs regulating post-transcriptional gene expression. They play important roles in many biological processes under physiological or pathological conditions, including development, metabolism, tumorigenesis, metastasis, and immune response. Over the past 15 years, significant insights have been gained into the roles of miRNAs in cancer. Depending on the cancer type, miRNAs can act as oncogenes, tumor suppressors, or metastasis regulators. In this review, we focus on the role of miRNAs as components of molecular networks regulating metastasis. These miRNAs, termed metastamiRs, promote or inhibit metastasis through various mechanisms, including regulation of migration, invasion, colonization, cancer stem cell properties, epithelial-mesenchymal transition, and microenvironment. Some of these metastamiRs represent attractive therapeutic targets for cancer treatment.

Keywords

MicroRNA (miRNA) OncomiR MetastamiR Metastasis 

Notes

Acknowledgements

We thank Baochau Ton for critical reading of the manuscript. The authors’ research is supported by the US National Institutes of Health grants R01CA166051 and R01CA181029, a Cancer Prevention and Research Institute of Texas grant RP150319, and a Stand Up To Cancer Innovative Research Grant.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Experimental Radiation OncologyThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  2. 2.UTHealth Graduate School of Biomedical SciencesThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA
  3. 3.Department of Molecular and Cellular OncologyThe University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer CenterHoustonUSA

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