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miRNAs and Melanoma: How Are They Connected?

DOI: 10.1155/2012/528345

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miRNAs are non-coding RNAs that bind to mRNA targets and disturb their stability and/or translation, thus acting in gene posttranscriptional regulation. It is predicted that over 30% of mRNAs are regulated by miRNAs. Therefore these molecules are considered essential in the processing of many biological responses, such as cell proliferation, apoptosis, and stress responsiveness. As miRNAs participate of virtually all cellular pathways, their deregulation is critical to cancer development. Consequently, loss or gain of miRNAs function may contribute to tumor progression. Little is known about the regulation of miRNAs and understanding the events that lead to changes in their expression may provide new perspectives for cancer treatment. Among distinct types of cancer, melanoma has special implications. It is characterized as a complex disease, originated from a malignant transformation of melanocytes. Despite being rare, its metastatic form is usually incurable, which makes melanoma the major death cause of all skin cancers. Some molecular pathways are frequently disrupted in melanoma, and miRNAs probably have a decisive role on these alterations. Therefore, this review aims to discuss new findings about miRNAs in melanoma fields, underlying epigenetic processes, and also to argue possibilities of using miRNAs in melanoma diagnosis and therapy. 1. Introduction Gene expression profiles characterize cells of specific tissues. Alterations on these patterns can promote cell homeostasis disruption leading to the appearance of some diseases, including cancer. In this regard, it is very important to comprehend how gene expression is regulated. One of the mechanisms of gene control is associated with the dynamic equilibrium between mRNA translation and its degradation and this process is intermediated by a special class of noncoding small RNAs. miRNAs (microRNAs), siRNAs (small interfering RNAs), and piRNAs (Piwi-interacting RNAs) are some elements that characterized the group of noncoding small RNAs, and the main differences between them are their molecular origin, biogenesis course, and size (for review see [1, 2]). These tiny molecules participate directly in gene expression outcome by physical interaction with mRNAs [3] and indirectly through aiding heterochromatin formation [4]. Therefore, due to their ability in interfering in transcriptome, small RNAs virtually participate on all biological processes. piRNAs and siRNAs seem to be important in gametogenesis and retrotransposon silencing of mammalian germ line [5, 6], as well as embryo development. Recently,


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