MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. They bind to complementary sequences on target mRNA and typically down regulate expression or increase the rate of degradation; however, the roles of miRNA are still evolving and some miRNA have been shown to increase specific gene translation. miRNA holds a unique position among RNA for use as a biomarker due to its unique stability. Unlike mRNA, miRNA has been shown to be remarkably stable in a variety of tissues and body fluids. This greatly facilitates the use of miRNAs as clinical biomarkers of disease and injury since sample handling and processing is much less problematic when compared to mRNA. miRNA expression profiles have been extensively investigated for distinguishing cancerous vs. non-cancerous tissue.
Citation: Salminen WF, Yang X, Shi Q, Mendrick DL (2011) Using microRNA as Biomarkers of Drug-Induced Liver Injury. J Mol Biomark Diagn 2:119.