MicroRNAs in cancer cell death pathways: Apoptosis and necroptosis.


Department of Cancer and Inflammation Research, Institute for Molecular Medicine, University of Southern Denmark, 5000 Odense, Denmark. Electronic address: [Email]


To protect tissues and the organism from disease, potentially harmful cells are removed through programmed cell death processes, including apoptosis and necroptosis. These types of cell death are critically controlled by microRNAs (miRNAs). MiRNAs are short RNA molecules that target and inhibit expression of many cellular regulators, including those controlling programmed cell death via the intrinsic (Bcl-2 and Mcl-1), extrinsic (TRAIL and Fas), p53-and endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress-induced apoptotic pathways, as well as the necroptosis cell death pathway. In this review, we discuss the current knowledge of apoptosis and necroptosis pathways and how these are impaired in cancer cells. We focus on how miRNAs disrupt apoptosis and necroptosis, thereby critically contributing to malignancy. Understanding which and how miRNAs and their targets affect cell death pathways could open up novel therapeutic opportunities for cancer patients. Indeed, restoration of pro-apoptotic tumor suppressor miRNAs (apoptomiRs) or inhibition of oncogenic miRNAs (oncomiRs) represent strategies that are currently being trialed or are already applied as miRNA-based cancer therapies. Therefore, better understanding the cancer type-specific expression of apoptomiRs and oncomiRs and their underlying mechanisms in cell death pathways will not only advance our knowledge, but also continue to provide new opportunities to treat cancer.


Apoptosis,Cancer,Endoplasmic reticulum stress,MicroRNAs,Necroptosis,