MicroRNAs as Regulators of Cancer Cell Energy Metabolism

Natarajaseenivasan Suriya Muthukumaran, Prema Velusamy, Charles Solomon Akino Mercy, Dianne Langford, Kalimuthusamy Natarajaseenivasan, Santhanam Shanmughapriya

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


To adapt to the tumor environment or to escape chemotherapy, cancer cells rapidly reprogram their metabolism. The hallmark biochemical phenotype of cancer cells is the shift in metabolic reprogramming towards aerobic glycolysis. It was thought that this metabolic shift to glycolysis alone was sufficient for cancer cells to meet their heightened energy and metabolic demands for proliferation and survival. Recent studies, however, show that cancer cells rely on glutamine, lipid, and mitochondrial metabolism for energy. Oncogenes and scavenging pathways control many of these metabolic changes, and several metabolic and tumorigenic pathways are post-transcriptionally regulated by microRNA (miRNAs). Genes that are directly or indirectly responsible for energy production in cells are either negatively or positively regulated by miRNAs. Therefore, some miRNAs play an oncogenic role by regulating the metabolic shift that occurs in cancer cells. Additionally, miRNAs can regulate mitochondrial calcium stores and energy metabolism, thus promoting cancer cell survival, cell growth, and metastasis. In the electron transport chain (ETC), miRNAs enhance the activity of apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) and cytochrome c, and these apoptosome proteins are directed towards the ETC rather than to the apoptotic pathway. This review will highlight how miRNAs regulate the enzymes, signaling pathways, and transcription factors of cancer cell metabolism and mitochondrial calcium import/export pathways. The review will also focus on the metabolic reprogramming of cancer cells to promote survival, proliferation, growth, and metastasis with an emphasis on the therapeutic potential of miRNAs for cancer treatment.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1329
JournalJournal of Personalized Medicine
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2022

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Medicine (miscellaneous)


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