MicroRNAs, epigenetics and disease

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Epigenetics is defined as the heritable chances that affect gene expression without changing the DNA sequence. Epigenetic regulation of gene expression can be through different mechanisms such as DNA methylation, histone modifications and nucleosome positioning. MicroRNAs are short RNA molecules which do not code for a protein but have a role in post-transcriptional silencing of multiple target genes by binding to their 3' UTRs (untranslated regions). Both epigenetic mechanisms, such as DNA methylation and histone modifications, and the microRNAs are crucial for normal differentiation, development and maintenance of tissue-specific gene expression. These mechanisms also explain how cells with the same DNA content can differentiate into cells with different functions. Changes in epigenetic processes can lead to changes in gene function, cancer formation and progression, as well as other diseases. In the present chapter we will mainly focus on microRNAs and methylation and their implications in human disease, mainly in cancer.
Original languageEnglish
JournalEssays in Biochemistry
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)165-185
Number of pages21
Publication statusPublished - 2010

    Research areas

  • Disease, Epigenesis, Genetic, Humans, MicroRNAs

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