Author(s): Bouyssou JM, Manier S, Huynh D, Roccaro A
Metastasis is a phenomenon of crucial importance in defining prognosis in patients with cancer and is often responsible for cancer-related mortality. It is known that several steps are necessary for clonal cells to disseminate from their primary tumor site and colonize distant tissues, thus originating metastatic lesions. Therefore, investigating the molecular actors regulating this process may provide helpful insights in the development of efficient therapeutic responses. Recent evidences have indicated the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in modulating the metastatic process in solid tumors. miRNAs are small regulatory non-coding RNAs that bind to specific target mRNAs, leading to translational repression. miRNAs are known to act as negative regulators of gene expression and are involved in the regulation of biological processes, including cell growth, differentiation and apoptosis, both in physiological conditions and during diseases, such as tumors. In the specific field of tumorigenesis, miRNAs play an important role in mediating oncogenesis and favoring tumor progression, as a result of their ability to modulate epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT) and other series of events facilitating the formation of metastasis. The role of miRNAs in cancer development has been widely studied and has helped elucidate events such as the change in expression of oncogenes, tumor-suppressors and cancer-related proteins. This review focuses on the mechanisms underlying the role of miRNAs as part of the metastatic process.