The number of treatment options for melanoma patients has grown in the past few years, leading to considerable improvements in both overall and progression-free survival. Targeted therapies and immune checkpoint inhibitors have opened a new era in the management of melanoma patients. Despite the clinical advances, further research efforts are needed to identify other “druggable” targets and new biomarkers to improve the stratification of melanoma patients who could really benefit from targeted and immunotherapies. To this end, many studies have focused on the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) that are small non-coding RNAs (18-25 nucleotides in length), which post-transcriptionally regulate the expression of their targets. In cancer, they can behave either as oncogenes or oncosuppressive genes and play a central role in many intracellular pathways involved in proliferation and invasion. Given their modulating activity on the transcriptional landscape, their biological role is under investigation to study resistance mechanisms. They are able to mediate the communication between tumor cells and their microenvironment and regulate tumor immunity through direct regulation of the genes involved in immune activation or suppression. To date, a very promising miRNA-based strategy is to use them as prognosis and diagnosis biomarkers both as cell-free miRNAs and extracellular-vesicle miRNAs. However, miRNAs have a complex role since they target different genes in different cellular conditions. Thus, the ultimate aim of studies has been to recapitulate their role in melanoma in biological networks that account for miRNA/gene expression and mutational state. In this review, we will provide an overview of current scientific knowledge regarding the oncogenic or oncosuppressive role of miRNAs in melanoma and their use as biomarkers, with respect to approved therapies for melanoma treatment.
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