microRNAs in breast cancer: regulatory roles governing the hallmarks of cancer (Biological Reviews, Jan 2015)

Jen Nee Goh1,2,†, Ser Yue Loo1,3,4,†, Arpita Datta3,†, Kodappully Sivaraman Siveen2, Wei Ney Yap1,2 , Wanpei Cai1,2, Eun Myoung Shin1, Chao Wang1,2, Ji Eun Kim1, Maurice Chan5, Arun M. Dharmarajan6, Ann Siew-Gek Lee3,5,7, Peter E. Lobie1,2,8, Celestial T. Yap3,8,* and Alan Prem Kumar1,2,6,8,9,*

1Cancer Science Institute of Singapore, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117599
2Department of Pharmacology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117599
3Department of Physiology, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine, National University of Singapore, Singapore 117597
4Genome Institute of Singapore, Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), Singapore 138672
5Division of Medical Sciences, National Cancer Centre, Singapore 169610
6Curtin Health Innovation Research Institute, Biosciences Research Precinct, School of Biomedical Sciences, Faculty of Health Sciences, Curtin University, 6845 Perth, WA, Australia
7Duke-NUS Graduate Medical School, Singapore 169857
8National University Cancer Institute, Singapore 1192288
9Department of Biological Sciences, University of North Texas, Denton, TX 76203-5017, USA

*Authors for correspondence: Celestial T. Yap at address 3 [Tel.: (65) 65163294; Fax: (65) 67788161; E-mail:]; Alan Prem Kumar at addresses 1 and 2 [Tel.: (65) 65165456; Fax: (65) 68739664; E-mail:].

Authors contributed equally

A large number of etiological factors and the complexity of breast cancers present challenges for prevention and treatment. Recently, the emergence of microRNAs (miRNAs) as cancer biomarkers has added an extra dimension to the ‘molecular signatures’ of breast cancer. Bioinformatic analyses indicate that each miRNA can regulate hundreds of target genes and could serve functionally as “oncogenes” or “tumour suppressor” genes, and co-ordinate multiple cellular processes relevant to cancer progression. A number of studies have shown that miRNAs play important roles in breast tumorigenesis, metastasis, proliferation and differentiation of breast cancer cells. This review provides a comprehensive overview of miRNAs with established functional relevance in breast cancer, their established target genes and resulting cellular phenotype. The role and application of circulating miRNAs in breast cancer is also discussed. Furthermore, we summarize the role of miRNAs in the hallmarks of breast cancer, as well as the possibility of using miRNAs as potential biomarkers for detection of breast cancer.

miRNAs in breast cancer