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Intersection of MicroRNA and gene regulatory networks and their implication in cancer
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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have attracted heightened attention for their role as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression. It has become clear that miRNAs can both up- and downregulate protein expression. According to current estimates, most human genes are harboring miRNAs and/or are regulated by them. Thus miRNAs form a complex network of expression regulation which tightly interacts with known gene regulatory networks. Similar to some transcription factors, some miRNAs can have hundreds of target transcripts whose expression they modulate. Thus miRNAs can form complex regulatory networks by themselves, but because their expression is often tightly coordinated with gene expression, they form an intertwined regulatory network with many possible interactions among gene and miRNA regulatory pathways. In this review we first consider gene regulatory networks. Then we discuss microRNAs and their implication in cancer and how they may form regulatory networks. Finally, we give our perspective and provide an outlook including the aspect of personalized medicine.