a1 The Molecular Pathology Research Group, German University in Cairo, Cairo, Egypt
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short noncoding RNAs that act as post-transcriptional regulators. The low complementarity required between the sequences of a miRNA and its target mRNA enables a single miRNA to act on a large range of targets. Thus miRNAs have an intersecting complex effect that spans a multiplicity of pathways and processes. In this review, the different roles of a vital miRNA, miR-181a, in physiological and pathological developments are collated in an attempt to highlight the intersections of such processes and to show how the deregulation of miR-181a could in one context drive malignancy, whereas in another it can lead to autoimmunity. Such deregulation could be related to the faulty levels of one of its own targets, p53, which was recently reported to control an array of miRNAs, one of which is miR-181a. This sheds light on a hidden loop of chaos behind chronic diseases such as autoimmunity and cancer.
(Online publication February 21 2012)