Non-coding RNAs, the Trojan horse in two-way communication between tumor and stroma in colorectal and hepatocellular carcinoma

Cristina-Sorina Cătană, Martin Pichler, Gianluigi Giannelli, Robert M. Mader and Ioana Berindan-Neagoe _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:29519-29534. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.15706

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Cristina- Sorina Cătană1, Martin Pichler2, Gianluigi Giannelli3, Robert M. Mader4 and Ioana Berindan-Neagoe5,6,7

1 Department of Medical Biochemistry, “Iuliu Haţieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

2 Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Oncology, Medical University of Graz, Graz, Austria

3 Department of Internal Medicine, Immunology and Infectious Diseases, Section of Internal Medicine, University of Bari Medical School, Bari, Italy

4 Department of Medicine I, Comprehensive Cancer Center of the Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria

5 Research Center for Functional Genomics, Biomedicine and Translational Medicine, Institute of Doctoral Studies, “Iuliu Haţieganu” University of Medicine and Pharmacy, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

6 Department of Experimental Pathology, “Ion Chiricuta” Institute of Oncology, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

7 Medfuture Research Center for Advanced Medicine, Cluj-Napoca, Romania

Correspondence to:

Ioana Berindan-Neagoe, email:

Keywords: tumor microenvironment, microRNA, long non-coding RNA, CRC, HCC

Received: November 15, 2016 Accepted: January 24, 2017 Published: February 25, 2017


In a continuous and mutual exchange of information, cancer cells are invariably exposed to microenvironment transformation. This continuous alteration of the genetic, molecular and cellular peritumoral stroma background has become as critical as the management of primary tumor progression events in cancer cells. The communication between stroma and tumor cells within the extracellular matrix is one of the triggers in colon and liver carcinogenesis. All non- codingRNAs including long non-coding RNAs, microRNAs and ultraconserved genes play a critical role in almost all cancers and are responsible for the modulation of the tumor microenvironment in several malignant processes such as initiation, progression and dissemination. This review details the involvement of non codingRNAs in the evolution of human colorectal carcinoma and hepatocellular carcinoma in relationship with the microenvironment. Recent research has shown that a considerable number of dysregulated non- codingRNAs could be valuable diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers in cancer. Therefore, more in-depth knowledge of the role non- codingRNAs play in stroma-tumor communication and of the complex regulatory mechanisms between ultraconserved genes and microRNAs supports the validation of future effective therapeutic targets in patients suffering from hepatocellular and colorectal carcinoma, two distinctive entities which share quite a lot common non-coding RNAs.

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