The Yin and Yang function of microRNAs in insulin signalling and cancer

Juanhong Liu, Feng Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Data accumulated over the past several decades uncover a vital role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in various biological processes. It is well established that, by binding to target mRNAs, miRNAs act as post-transcription suppressors to inhibit mRNA translation and/or to promote mRNA degradation. Very recently, miRNAs have been found to act as positive regulators to promote gene transcription. In this review, we briefly summarize the regulation and functional roles of miRNAs in metabolic diseases and cancer development. We also review recent advances on the mechanisms by which miRNAs regulate gene expression, focusing on their unconventional roles as enhancers to promote gene expression. Given the high potential of miRNAs as biomarkers for risk assessment and as high-value targets for therapy, a better understanding of the Yin-Yang functional feature of miRNAs and their mechanisms of action could have significant clinical implications for the treatment of various diseases such as obesity, type 2 diabetes, and cancer.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)24-32
Number of pages9
JournalRNA biology
Issue number1
StatePublished - 2021


  • cancer
  • enhancers of mRNA expression
  • metabolism
  • miRNA;regulation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Cell Biology


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