Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(1):134-150. doi:10.7150/ijbs.50773 This issue


The Emerging Roles of Autophagy-Related MicroRNAs in Cancer

Chan Shan, Xinzhe Chen, Hongjing Cai, Xiaodan Hao, Jing Li, Yinfeng Zhang, Jinning Gao, Zhixia Zhou, Xinmin Li, Cuiyun Liu, Peifeng Li, Kun Wang

Institute of Translational Medicine, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, College of Medicine, Qingdao University, Qingdao 266021, China.

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Shan C, Chen X, Cai H, Hao X, Li J, Zhang Y, Gao J, Zhou Z, Li X, Liu C, Li P, Wang K. The Emerging Roles of Autophagy-Related MicroRNAs in Cancer. Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(1):134-150. doi:10.7150/ijbs.50773. Available from

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Graphic abstract

Autophagy is a conserved catabolic process involving the degradation and recycling of damaged biomacromolecules or organelles through lysosomal-dependent pathways and plays a crucial role in maintaining cell homeostasis. Consequently, abnormal autophagy is associated with multiple diseases, such as infectious diseases, neurodegenerative diseases and cancer. Currently, autophagy is considered to be a dual regulator in cancer, functioning as a suppressor in the early stage while supporting the growth and metastasis of cancer cells in the later stage and may also produce therapeutic resistance. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNA molecules that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by silencing targeted mRNA. MiRNAs have great regulatory potential for several fundamental biological processes, including autophagy. In recent years, an increasing number of studies have linked miRNA dysfunction to the growth, metabolism, migration, metastasis, and responses of cancer cells to therapy. Therefore, the study of autophagy-related miRNAs in cancer will provide insights into cancer biology and lead to the development of novel anti-cancer strategies. In the present review, we summarise the current knowledge of miRNA dysregulation during autophagy in cancer, focusing on the relationship between autophagy and miRNAs, and discuss their involvement in cancer biology and cancer treatment.

Keywords: Autophagy, MicroRNA, Post-translational regulation, Cancer