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Keywords:

  • apoptosis;
  • c-met;
  • cell cycle;
  • hepatocellular carcinoma;
  • metastasis;
  • microRNA;
  • PI3K-Akt;
  • Ras-Raf-Mek-Erk;
  • receptor tyrosine kinase;
  • transforming growth factor-β

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs of 19–23 nucleotides that negatively regulate gene expression through binding to the 3′-untranslated regions of target messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Although the miRNA family constitutes only a minor fraction of the human genome, they hold fundamental importance in diverse physiological and developmental processes due to their pleiotropic effects on the post-transcriptional regulation of many vital genes. This class of regulatory RNAs has also emerged as important players in carcinogenesis; most, if not all, cancer types have abnormal miRNA expression patterns. In hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC), miRNA dysregulation plays a key role in mediating the pathogenicity of several etiologic risk factors and, more importantly, they promote a number of cancer-inducing signaling pathways. Recent studies have also demonstrated their potential values in the clinical management of HCC patients as some miRNAs may be used as prognostic or diagnostic markers. The significance of miRNAs in liver carcinogenesis emphasizes their values as therapeutic targets, while technological advances in the delivery of miRNA has shed new possibilities for their use as novel therapeutic agents against HCC.