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Non-Coding RNA and Cancer

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The ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project has substantially contributed to reveal that more than 70% of the human genome is transcribed, but only as few as the 2% of produced RNA is ultimately translated into protein. The discovery of numerous non-coding RNA (ncRNA) transcripts in humans has ...

The ENCODE (Encyclopedia of DNA Elements) project has substantially contributed to reveal that more than 70% of the human genome is transcribed, but only as few as the 2% of produced RNA is ultimately translated into protein. The discovery of numerous non-coding RNA (ncRNA) transcripts in humans has dramatically altered our understanding of complex diseases such as cancer. The scientific community now faces the challenge to unravel the biological functions of these transcripts and to understand how they impact on human cell physiology. In general, ncRNAs are grouped in two major classed based on their length. Those transcripts shorter of 200 nucleotides belong to the class of small ncRNAs, mainly including Piwi-interacting RNAs, small interfering RNAs and microRNAs. LncRNAs (long non-coding RNAs) are mRNA-like transcripts ranging in length from 200 nt to circa 100 kb, yet are poorly conserved and do not function as templates for protein synthesis. However more recently, among ncRNAs, the landscape of lncRNAs has been unveiled by the fast progress of deep sequencing technology along with the development of bioinformatics tools enabling their identification. A number of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) derived from the 'dark matter' of the human genome exhibit cancer-specific differential expression and/or genomic alterations, and it is increasingly clear that ncRNAs, including small ncRNAs and long ncRNAs (lncRNAs), play an important role in cancer development by regulating protein-coding gene expression through diverse mechanisms. Furthermore, in addition to ncRNAs, nearly half of the mammalian genomes consist of transposable elements, particularly retrotransposons. Now it is imperative to decipher the biological functions of these transcripts and how they impact on human cell and pathophysiology.

This Research Topic aims to present novel insights on molecular mechanisms as well as the diagnostic and prognostic significance of non-coding genome including tumor ncRNAs in different cancer subtypes, and on its predictive relevance, as related to responsiveness to targeted drugs and chemotherapy.

Increasing our understanding on how the "dark matter" of the human genome exhibit cancer-specific differential expression and/or genomic alterations could help to identify novel therapeutic and chemopreventive targets.


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