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Open Access Review

A brief primer on microRNAs and their roles in angiogenesis

Sudarshan Anand

Author Affiliations

Moores UCSD Cancer Center, 3855 Health Sciences Drive #0803, La Jolla, CA, 92093, USA

Vascular Cell 2013, 5:2  doi:10.1186/2045-824X-5-2

Published: 16 January 2013

Abstract

Development of the vasculature is a complex, dynamic process orchestrated by a balance of pro and anti-angiogenic signaling pathways. The same signaling pathways are mis-regulated and exploited during pathological angiogenesis in cancer, inflammation and cardiovascular diseases and contribute to disease progression. In the last decade, small non-coding RNA molecules termed microRNAs (miRs) have emerged as key regulators of several cellular processes including angiogenesis. It is becoming clear that miRs function in complex networks and regulate gene expression both at the mRNA and protein levels thereby altering cellular signaling responses to specific stimuli. In the vasculature, miRs can function either in a pro-angiogenic manner and potentiate angiogenesis or act as anti-angiogenic miRs by enhancing cell death and decreasing endothelial proliferation. This review aims to provide an update on how microRNAs regulate gene expression and illustrate miR function in the vasculature with a discussion of potential applications of miRs as anti-angiogenic therapeutics.

Keywords:
Angiogenesis; microRNA networks; miR-126; miR-132; p120RasGAP; NOTCH; Ocular angiogenesis