MicroRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small non-coding RNA molecules, are responsible for RNA silencing and post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. They can mediate a fine-tuned crosstalk among coding and non-coding RNA molecules sharing miRNA response elements (MREs). In a suitable environment, both coding and non-coding RNA molecules can be targeted by the same miRNAs and can indirectly regulate each other by competing for them. These RNAs, otherwise known as competing endogenous RNAs (ceRNAs), lead to an additional post-transcriptional regulatory layer, where non-coding RNAs can find new significance. The miRNA-mediated interplay among different types of RNA molecules has been observed in many different contexts. The analyses of ceRNA networks in cancer and other pathologies, as well as in other physiological conditions, provide new opportunities for interpreting omics
data for the field of personalized medicine. The development of novel computational tools, providing putative predictions of ceRNA interactions, is a rapidly growing field of interest. In this review, I discuss and present the current knowledge of the ceRNA mechanism and its implications in a broad spectrum of different pathologies, such as cardiovascular or autoimmune diseases, cancers and neurodegenerative disorders.
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