Semin Reprod Med 2008; 26(6): 522-536
DOI: 10.1055/s-0028-1096132
© Thieme Medical Publishers

Involvement of MicroRNAs in Breast Cancer

Brian D. Adams1 , 4 , Irene K. Guttilla2 , 4 , Bruce A. White3 , 4
  • 1Graduate Assistant/Student, Department of Cell Biology, Farmington, Connecticut
  • 2Graduate Assistant/Student, Department of Molecular Microbial and Structural Biology, Farmington, Connecticut
  • 3Professor, Department of Cell Biology, Farmington, Connecticut
  • 4University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, Connecticut
Further Information

Publication History

Publication Date:
24 October 2008 (online)


MicroRNAs regulate numerous aspects of normal and pathologic cellular processes, including cancer. Breast cancer is a heterogeneous form of cancer that is derived from mammary epithelial cells. This review discusses the involvement of microRNAs in the regulation of normal mammary epithelial stem cells, their differentiation into basal and luminal phenotypes, and their control of breast cancer stem cells, also referred to as tumor-initiating cells. In the second section, we summarize the findings of differential microRNA expression in normal versus breast tumor tissue and among the various subtypes of breast cancer (primarily luminal, basal-like, and HER2). In the third and fourth sections of the review, specific mRNA targets of microRNAs in breast cancer are discussed, including those encoding the estrogen receptor-α and epidermal growth factor receptor, as well as survival, tumor suppressor, and cell-cycle–related proteins. Finally, the involvement of microRNAs in the promotion and suppression of breast cancer metastasis is reviewed. The studies presented herein provide a rationale for the design of therapeutic agents that target specific microRNAs in the treatment of breast cancer. Hopefully, this review will provide an impetus for more studies on the role of microRNAs in the regulation of normal mammary gland development and function.


Bruce A White, Ph.D. 

Professor, Department of Cell Biology, University of Connecticut Health Center

263 Farmington Avenue, Farmington, CT 06030

Email: [email protected]