Long Noncoding RNA and Epithelial Mesenchymal Transition in Cancer

Mila Gugnoni, Alessia Ciarrocchi

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


Epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) is a multistep process that allows epithelial cells to acquire mesenchymal properties. Fundamental in the early stages of embryonic development, this process is aberrantly activated in aggressive cancerous cells to gain motility and invasion capacity, thus promoting metastatic phenotypes. For this reason, EMT is a central topic in cancer research and its regulation by a plethora of mechanisms has been reported. Recently, genomic sequencing and functional genomic studies deepened our knowledge on the fundamental regulatory role of noncoding DNA. A large part of the genome is transcribed in an impressive number of noncoding RNAs. Among these, long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been reported to control several biological processes affecting gene expression at multiple levels from transcription to protein localization and stability. Up to now, more than 8000 lncRNAs were discovered as selectively expressed in cancer cells. Their elevated number and high expression specificity candidate these molecules as a valuable source of biomarkers and potential therapeutic targets. Rising evidence currently highlights a relevant function of lncRNAs on EMT regulation defining a new layer of involvement of these molecules in cancer biology. In this review we aim to summarize the findings on the role of lncRNAs on EMT regulation and to discuss their prospective potential value as biomarkers and therapeutic targets in cancer.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1924
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Apr 18 2019


  • cancer
  • Epithelial to Mesenchymal Transition (EMT)
  • long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry


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