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ceRNA in cancer: possible functions and clinical implications
  1. Xiaolong Qi1,6,
  2. Da-Hong Zhang2,
  3. Nan Wu3,
  4. Jun-Hua Xiao4,
  5. Xiang Wang5,
  6. Wang Ma1
  1. 1Department of Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, Henan, China
  2. 2Department of Clinical Oncology, Huai'an First People's Hospital, Nanjing Medical University, Huai'an, China
  3. 3Department of Orthopedic Surgery, Peking Union Medical College Hospital, Peking Union Medical College and Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences, Beijing, China
  4. 4Department of Gastroenterology, Shanghai East Hospital, Tongji University, School of Medicine, Shanghai, China
  5. 5Department of Neurology, The Affiliated Huai'an Hospital of Xuzhou Medical College and The Second People's Hospital of Huai'an, Huai'an, China
  6. 6Department of General Surgery, Nanfang Hospital, Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Wang Ma, Department of Oncology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, No 1 Jianshe road, Zhengzhou, China; wangmabwh{at}126.com; or Xiang Wang, Department of Neurology, The Affiliated Huai'an Hospital of Xuzhou Medical College and The Second People's Hospital of Huai'an, Huai'an, China; luzg1981{at}163.com.

Abstract

Competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs) are transcripts that can regulate each other at post-transcription level by competing for shared miRNAs. CeRNA networks link the function of protein-coding mRNAs with that of non-coding RNAs such as microRNA, long non-coding RNA, pseudogenic RNA and circular RNA. Given that any transcripts harbouring miRNA response element can theoretically function as ceRNAs, they may represent a widespread form of post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression in both physiology and pathology. CeRNA activity is influenced by multiple factors such as the abundance and subcellular localisation of ceRNA components, binding affinity of miRNAs to their sponges, RNA editing, RNA secondary structures and RNA-binding proteins. Aberrations in these factors may deregulate ceRNA networks and thus lead to human diseases including cancer. In this review, we introduce the mechanisms and molecular bases of ceRNA networks, discuss their roles in the pathogenesis of cancer as well as methods of predicting and validating ceRNA interplay. At last, we discuss the limitations of current ceRNA theory, propose possible directions and envision the possibilities of ceRNAs as diagnostic biomarkers or therapeutic targets.

  • Clinical genetics
  • MicroRNA
  • Molecular genetics
  • Cell biology

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