Antonios N. Gargalionis and Efthimia K. Basdra Pages 1493 - 1502 ( 10 )
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs, that function as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. Recent studies now predict that numerous miRNA molecules regulate a large proportion of the human transcriptome, thus creating a whole new research field that utilizes their potential impact on gene expression in favor of diagnosis, prognosis and drug development. MiRNAs are generated from transcription of respective genes into primary structures that usually follow a two-step maturation process in the cell nucleus and cytoplasm. Active miRNA folds downregulate protein expression either via direct repression of targeted messenger RNA (mRNA) or mRNA cleavage. They are critical factors that control human development and organogenesis and reemerge as key-molecules that profoundly influence adult cells and tissues under stress-responsive conditions. Therefore, several miRNAs exhibit dysregulated functions in almost all aspects of human pathology such as cancer, cardiovascular diseases, metabolic disorders, genetic and neurodegenerative diseases, forming tissue-specific molecular profiles that further define salient pathologic features. The present article offers an overview on miRNAs biogenesis and functional processes, major aspects of their participation in human development and milestones regarding their contribution in human diseases. Furthermore, their utility as extracellular biomarkers and the rationale behind miRNA inhibition or miRNA delivery are being discussed.
Biomarker, cancer, cardiovascular, disease, metabolic, microRNA, therapy.
Cellular and Molecular Biomechanics Unit, Department of Biological Chemistry, Medical School, University of Athens, 75, M. Asias Street, 11527 Athens, Greece.