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Open Access Highly Accessed Commentary

MicroRNAs: regulators of oncogenesis and stemness

Thales Papagiannakopoulos12 and Kenneth S Kosik12*

Author Affiliations

1 Neuroscience Research Institute, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA

2 Department of Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, University of California, Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106, USA

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BMC Medicine 2008, 6:15  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-6-15

Published: 24 June 2008

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are essential post-transcriptional regulators that determine cell identity and fate. Aberrant expression of miRNAs can lead to diseases, including cancer. Expression of many miRNAs in the de-differentiated brain tumor cancer stem cells resembles that of neural stem cells. In this issue of BMC Medicine, Silber et al provide evidence of the expression of such miRNAs and their potential to mediate differentiation in both stem cell populations. In this commentary, we discuss the known functions of miRNAs in cancer and stem cells, their therapeutic potential and how the findings of Silber et al provide insight into the role of miR-124/miR-137 dysregulation in glioblastomas.