Based on the latest research, the cancer::non-coding RNA conncection is undeniable. It’s just all the specifics around things like miRNA regulation that are still left to be understood. While dedicated epigenetics investigators are hard at work solving those mechanistic riddles, we’ve decided to take a look back at what’s been learned so far. Here are the articles we’ve covered in EpiGenie to date involving the role of ncRNAs, including miRNAs, in cancer:
Cancer, Non-coding RNAs and microRNAs
Silencing of Ultraconserved ncRNAs Is Not So Golden in Cancer
If you live near a construction site, are listening to one half of a cell-phone conversation in a movie theater, or stuck on an airliner next to a fussy infant, then for you silence may indeed be golden. But, for certain ultraconserved non-coding RNAs, transcriptional silencing can lead to a cellular uproar.
Cancer Suppression is a miR-200 Family Value
Cancer regulation and the miR-200 cluster has been a family affair for a while now. A new article from a group at The University of Arizona highlights a couple of family members, miR-200c and miR-141, (they must be the attention-starved middle children) and how epigenetic regulation of their expression differs in normal and cancer cells.
DNA Methylation, miRNAs, and Metastasis
We love a paper that addresses epigenetic regulation of epigenetic regulators, so we couldn’t resist a recent PNAS report that identified a miRNA DNA methylation signature for human cancer metastasis. Like proteins, miRNAs act as oncogenes, tumor suppressors, and metastatic mediators, and their expression can be influenced by promoter methylation status. So Manel Esteller at the Spanish National Cancer Research Center and colleagues at several universities, hospitals, and institutes in the U.S. and Europe characterized miRNAs that were upregulated upon treatment of metastatic cancer cells with a demethylating agent.
Mir-143 Slacks Off, Leaving DNMT3A To Run Wild In Colorectal Cancer
We like to think of epigenetics in terms of distinct areas like chromatin, DNA methylation and non-coding RNA (heck, we’ve even divided up the EpiGenie website that way), but more and more evidence is blurring the lines and showing us how these overlap. A recent publication from researchers at The Chinese University of Hong Kong gives us an example of how a non-coding RNA, miR-143, regulates DNA methylation by targeting DMNT3A in colorectal cancer (CRC).
miRNA Fights Cancer-Promoting Histone Methyltransferase
What makes some tumors as gentle as purring kittens and others of the same cancer type as ferocious as saber-toothed tigers? A miRNA (miR-101) was recently shown to take a bite out of cancer by inhibiting the EZH2 histone methyltransferase.
miR-200a Takes Down Cancerous Stem-like Transition
There’s been a deafening buzz lately surrounding a new focus of epigeneticists known as the epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT). EMT, the gateway between normal epithelial cells and those that gain mesenchymal properties, is thought to be the point where cancer metastasis kicks off. And now a University of Hong Kong team, led by Hongping Xia reports that miRNA-200a runs the show when it comes to keeping that dangerous transition in check.
Leukemia ALL Because of microRNA-125b
In a courtroom drama, sometimes the facts are so cut and dried that the defendant’s fate is all but sealed. New research from Marina Bousquet, a Lodish lab member at the Whitehead Institute, makes a strong case that miR-125b is essentially a smoking gun that causes leukemia.
The miRNA Trade Deficit in Cancer
Balancing imports and exports can be a tough task for any entity. It turns out cancer cells have a major issues when it comes to exporting pre-miRNA between the nucleus and cytoplasm that can have a pretty nasty impact on cellular homeostasis. miRNA expression profiles in tumors typically show a down regulation of miRNA expression.
miRNAs Help Boost Herpes Image in Prostate Cancer Community
The herpes virus (HSV-1) has never been well-liked in most circles. Hey, it’s hard to blame folks, what with all of the cold sores (or worse), for not wanting to get too close. But that may soon change as a team of scientists from The Prostate Centre at Vancouver General Hospital, is looking to upgrade HSV-1’s public image and make it an ally in the battle against cancer by harnessing a little miRNA mojo.
Biocomputers Use miRNA Profiles to ID and Kill Cancer Cells
Computers for your cells? Sounds like the plot to a Star Trek episode, but researchers report that they’ve developed a biocomputer that can figure out if a cell is cancerous and destroy it by triggering apoptosis —all by detecting miRNA levels, potentially leading to much more targeted cancer therapies than what’s available now.
Born to Lose: Histone Mods Tag Stem Cells for DNA Methylation of miRNA Loci in Cancer
It’s usually not hard to spot when things seem like they’re destined for failure. Like your ne’er do well cousin, or an American car from the 80’s. Other times, closer examination is required to find the seeds of a problem. That’s what it took for scientists to uncover how some harmless embryonic stem cells (ESCs) are programmed to become deadly cancer cells later on.