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Understanding Cancer Series

  • Posted: 12/29/2009

Slide 22

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The Role of MicroRNAs

MicroRNAs also can indirectly interfere with gene expression in a person. These small RNA molecules play an important role in controlling gene activity by regulating a process known as translation. In translation, another type of RNA molecule, called a messenger RNA, which is produced by copying the genetic code of a gene, is used as a template to make proteins. There are many different types of microRNAs, and a single microRNA species can affect the expression of many different proteins. Changes in microRNA levels have been linked to several human cancers.

Graphic shows how microRNAs indirectly interfere with gene expression in a person by blocking messenger RNA, so no protein is made.