Epigenetic regulation of miRNAs in cancer.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs with gene regulatory functions. It has been demonstrated that the genes encoding for miRNAs undergo the same regulatory epigenetic processes of protein coding genes. In turn, a specific subgroup of miRNAs, called epi-miRNAs, is able to directly target key enzymatic effectors of the epigenetic machinery (such as DNA methyltransferases, histone deacetylases, and polycomb genes), therefore indirectly affecting the expression of epigenetically regulated oncogenes and tumor suppressor genes. Also, several of the epigenetic drugs currently approved as anticancer agents affect the expression of miRNAs and this might explain part of their mechanism of action. This chapter focuses on the tight relationship between epigenetics and miRNAs and provides some insights on the translational implications of these findings, leading to the upcoming introduction of epigenetically related miRNAs in the treatment of cancer.