Lncrnas and micrornas as essential regulators of stemness in breast cancer stem cells Article uri icon


  • Breast cancer is an aggressive disease with a high incidence in women worldwide. Two decades ago, a controversial hypothesis was proposed that cancer arises from a subpopu-lation of “tumor initiating cells” or “cancer stem cells-like” (CSC). Today, CSC are defined as small subset of somatic cancer cells within a tumor with self-renewal properties driven by the aberrant expression of genes involved in the maintenance of a stemness-like phenotype. The understanding of the underlying cellular and molecular mechanisms involved in the maintenance of CSC subpopula-tion are fundamental in the development and persistence of breast cancer. Nowadays, the hypothesis suggests that genetic and epigenetic alterations give rise to breast cancer stem cells (bCSC), which are responsible for self-renewal, tumor growth, chemoresistance, poor prognosis and low survival in patients. However, the prominence of bCSC, as well as the molecular mechanisms that regulates and promotes the malignant phenotypes, are still poorly understood. The role of non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), such as long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) and microRNAs (miRNAs) acting as oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes has been recently highlighted by a plethora of studies in breast cancer. These ncRNAs positively or negatively impact on different signaling pathways that govern the cancer hallmarks associated with bCSC, making them attractive targets for therapy. In this review, we present a current summary of the studies on the pivotal roles of lncRNAs and microRNAs in the regulation of genes associated to stemness of bCSC. © 2021 by the authors. Licensee MDPI, Basel, Switzerland.

publication date

  • 2021-01-01