The versatile nature of miR-9/9* in human cancer

Katarzyna Nowek, Erik A.C. Wiemer and Mojca Jongen-Lavrencic _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:20838-20854. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.24889

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Katarzyna Nowek1, Erik A.C. Wiemer2 and Mojca Jongen-Lavrencic1

1Department of Hematology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

2Department of Medical Oncology, Erasmus MC Cancer Institute, Erasmus University Medical Center, Rotterdam, The Netherlands

Correspondence to:

Mojca Jongen-Lavrencic, email: [email protected]

Keywords: miRNA; miR-9; miR-9*; human cancer; miRNA-based therapies

Received: August 09, 2017    Accepted: February 26, 2018    Published: April 17, 2018


miR-9 and miR-9* (miR-9/9*) were first shown to be expressed in the nervous system and to function as versatile regulators of neurogenesis. The variable expression levels of miR-9/9* in human cancer prompted researchers to investigate whether these small RNAs may also have an important role in the deregulation of physiological and biochemical networks in human disease. In this review, we present a comprehensive overview of the involvement of miR-9/9* in various human malignancies focusing on their opposing roles in supporting or suppressing tumor development and metastasis. Importantly, it is shown that the capacity of miR-9/9* to impact tumor formation is independent from their influence on the metastatic potential of tumor cells. Moreover, data suggest that miR-9/9* may increase malignancy of one cancer cell population at the expense of another. The functional versatility of miR-9/9* emphasizes the complexity of studying miRNA function and the importance to perform functional studies of both miRNA strands in a relevant cellular context. The possible application of miR-9/9* as targets for miRNA-based therapies is discussed, emphasizing the need to obtain a better understanding of the functional properties of these miRNAs and to develop safe delivery methods to target specific cell populations.

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