Alu elements are one of most ubiquitous repetitive sequences in human genome, which were considered as the junk DNA in the past. Alu elements have been found to be associated with human diseases including cancers via events such as amplification, insertion, recombination or RNA editing, which provide a new perspective of oncogenesis at both DNA and RNA levels. Due to the prevalent distribution, Alu elements are widely used as target molecule of liquid biopsy. Alu-based cell-free DNA shows feasible application value in tumour diagnosis, postoperative monitoring and adjuvant therapy. In this review, the special tumourigenesis mechanism of Alu elements in human cancers is discussed, and the application of Alu elements in various tumour liquid biopsy is summarised.
- gene therapy
- molecular genetics
- human cancer
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