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miRNA - Articles and news items


Extracellular microRNA: the promises for the diagnostics of multiple diseases

Genomics, Issue 1 2013 / 21 February 2013 / Andrey Turchinovich and Barbara Burwinkel, German Cancer Research Center

This mini-review aims to summarise recent advances in the field of molecular diagnostic of diseases using extracellular circulating miRNA in biological fluids. We will also discuss obstacles in developing miRNAs as circulating biomarkers as well as the potential future of the field.

FIGURE 1miRNAs can impact viral infection directly by interacting with viral genes or indirectly by regulating host genes that play a role in the infection. miRNAs are derived from transcripts that contain stem-loop structures which get recognised and processed by a series of enzymes to generate the short (~22 nt) duplex RNA. One strand of the duplex is preferentially incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) and guides this complex to mRNAs or other viral elements that contain regions of complementarity to the miRNA

microRNA manipulation as a host-targeted antiviral therapeutic strategy

Genomics, Issue 6 2011 / 13 December 2011 / Nouf N. Laqtom, University of Edinburgh & King Abdulaziz University and Amy H. Buck, University of Edinburgh

microRNAs (miRNA) are a class of non-coding RNA that regulate the precise amounts of proteins expressed in a cell at a given time. These molecules were discovered in worms in 1993 and only known to exist in humans in the last decade. Despite the youth of the miRNA field, miRNA misexpression is known to occur in a range of human disease conditions and drugs based on modulating miRNA expression are now in development for treatment of cancer, cardiovascular, metabolic and inflammatory diseases. In the last six years, an increasing number of reports have also illuminated diverse roles of cellular miRNAs in viral infection and a miRNA-targeting therapy is currently in phase II clinical trials for treatment of the Hepatitis C virus. Here we review the literature related to miRNAs that regulate viral replication and highlight the factors that will influence the use of miRNA manipulation as a broader antiviral therapeutic strategy.

microRNAs (miRNA) are a class of small noncoding RNA that bind to messenger RNAs (mRNA) and regulate the amount of specific proteins that get expressed. These small RNAs are derived from longer primary transcripts that fold back on themselves to produce stem-loop structures which are recognised and processed by Drosha and co-factors in the nucleus followed by Dicer and co-factors in the cytoplasm, resulting in a ~ 22 nucleotide (nt) duplex RNA, for review see1,2. One strand of the duplex is preferentially incorporated into the RNA-induced silencing complex (RISC) where it then mediates binding to target mRNAs. These interactions lead to decreased protein getting produced from the transcript, due to RNA destabilisation and/or inhibited translation3 (Figure 1). miRNA-mRNA recognition generally requires perfect complementarity with only the first 6-8 nt of a miRNA, termed the ‘seed’ site4. Each miRNA therefore has the potential to interact with hundreds of target mRNAs3,4 and the majority of human protein-coding genes contain miRNA binding sites under selective pressure5. Therapeutic interest in miRNAs has been supported by studies in model organisms demonstrating key functions of individual miRNAs in cancer, cardiac disease, metabolic disease, neuronal and immune cell function6.


Expression profiling of circulating miRNAs as a novel non-invasive diagnostic tool

Genomics, Issue 6 2011 / 13 December 2011 / Mirco Castoldi. Department of Pediatric Hematology, Oncology and Immunology University of Heidelberg

Cell-free nucleic acids circulating in human blood were first described in 19481. However, it was not until the work of Sorengon and colleagues was published in 19942 that the importance of circulating nucleic acid (cfNA) was recognised. Today, the detection of diverse type of cfNA3 in blood and other body fluids is a valuable resource for the identification of a novel biomarker4,5. Although different types of cfNA have been described (including DNA, mRNA and microRNA), this review focuses on the isolation, detection and clinical utility of circulating microRNAs.

microRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of short single stranded non-coding RNAs (~22 nts) that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. Interaction between an miRNA and any given of its mRNA targets results in either translation inhibition, mRNA degradation or a combination of both mechanisms. Therefore, miRNAs activity effectively reduces the transcriptional output of a target gene, without affecting its transcription rate. Currently, the sequence of over 60,000 microRNAs are deposited in the miRBase database [Version 17, April 20116]. miRNA activity has been associated with the control of a wide range of basic processes such as development, differentiation and metabolism. Detection of differential expression of miRNAs in many cases have established the basis for miRNA functional analysis and specific miRNA expression patterns can provide valuable diagnostic and prognostic indications, for example, in the context of human malignancies7,8. Moreover, the deregulation of the expression of miRNAs has been shown to contribute to cancer development through various kinds of mechanisms, including deletions, amplification or mutations involving miRNA loci, epigenetic silencing, as well as the dysregulation of transcription factors that target specific miRNAs9,10.


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