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piRNAs (PIWI-interacting RNAs) are small non-coding RNAs capable of regulation of transposon and gene expression. piRNAs utilise multiple mechanisms to affect gene expression, which makes them potentially more powerful regulators than microRNAs. The mechanisms by which piRNAs regulate transposon and gene expression include DNA methylation, histone modifications, and mRNA degradation. Genitourinary cancers (GC) are a large group of neoplasms that differ by their incidence, clinical course, biology, and prognosis for patients. Regardless of the GC type, metastatic disease remains a key therapeutic challenge, largely affecting patients' survival rates. Recent studies indicate that piRNAs could serve as potentially useful biomarkers allowing for early cancer detection and therapeutic interventions at the stage of non-advanced tumour, improving patient's outcomes. Furthermore, studies in prostate cancer show that piRNAs contribute to cancer progression by affecting key oncogenic pathways such as PI3K/AKT. Here, we discuss recent findings on biogenesis, mechanisms of action and the role of piRNAs and the associated PIWI proteins in GC. We also present tools that may be useful for studies on the functioning of piRNAs in cancers.


Karolina Hanusek, Sławomir Poletajew, Piotr Kryst, Agnieszka Piekiełko-Witkowska, Joanna Bogusławska. piRNAs and PIWI Proteins as Diagnostic and Prognostic Markers of Genitourinary Cancers. Biomolecules. 2022 Jan 22;12(2)

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PMID: 35204687

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