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Bone Marrow Research
Volume 2013 (2013), Article ID 269107, 12 pages
Review Article

The Role of miRNA in Haematological Malignancy

Brighton and Sussex Medical School, University of Sussex, Brighton, East Sussex BN1 9PS, UK

Received 31 July 2013; Accepted 1 October 2013

Academic Editor: Guido Kobbe

Copyright © 2013 Stephanie Gounaris-Shannon and Timothy Chevassut. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Currently, there are over 1,800 annotated human miRNAs, many of which have tissue-specific expression. Numerous studies have highlighted their role in haematopoietic differentiation and proliferation, acting as master regulators of haematopoietic stem cell function. Aberrant expression of miRNAs has been observed in haematological cancers, exhibiting unique expression signatures in comparison to normal counterparts. Functional and target analyses as well as animal models have attempted to annotate how different miRNA may contribute to the pathophysiology of these malignancies from modulating cancer associated genes, functioning directly as oncogenes or tumour suppressor genes or acting as bystanders or regulators of the epigenetic mechanisms in cancer. miRNAs have also been shown to play a role in modulating drug resistance and determining prognosis between the various subtypes of blood cancers. This review discusses the important role that miRNAs play in haematological malignancies by exploring associations that exist between the two and trying to examine evidence of causality to support the tantalising possibility that miRNAs might serve as therapeutic targets in blood cancers.