MicroRNAs are an abundant class of noncoding RNAs, typically 20–23 nucleotides in length that are often evolutionarily conserved in metazoans and expressed in a cell and tissue specific manner. MicroRNAs exert their gene regulatory activity primarily by imperfectly base pairing to the 3′ UTR of their target mRNAs, leading to mRNA degradation or translational inhibition. In cancer, microRNAs are often dysregulated with their expression patterns being correlated with clinically relevant tumor characteristics. Recently, microRNAs were shown to be directly involved in cancer initiation and progression. This review focuses primarily on emerging developments in the microRNA field that impact our understanding of how these molecules contribute to carcinogenesis.
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