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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules, approximately 22 nucleotides in length that regulate gene translation through silencing or degradation of target mRNAs. They are involved in multiple biological processes, including differentiation and proliferation, metabolism, hemostasis, apoptosis or inflammation, and in the pathophysiology of many diseases. Numerous studies have suggested circulating miRNAs as promising diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers of many diseases.

The miR-941 gene is only found in humans where it first appeared between one and six million years ago. miR-941 is highly expressed in pluripotent cells, repressed upon differentiation and preferentially targets genes in hedgehog- and insulin-signalling pathways, thus suggesting roles in cellular differentiation. Human-specific effects of miR-941 regulation are detectable in the brain and affect genes involved in neurotransmitter signalling. Taken together, these results implicate miR-941 in human evolution, and provide an example of rapid regulatory evolution in the human lineage.

miR-941 was significantly down-regulated in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) tissues and cell lines and was generally hypermethylated in HCC. The overexpression of miR-941 suppressed in vitro cell proliferation, migration, and invasion and inhibited the metastasis of HCC cells in vivo.

miR-941 expression was relatively higher in patients with acute coronary syndrome (ACS) and ST-segment elevation myocardial infarction (STEMI). Plasma miR-941 level was elevated in patients with NSTE-ACS or STEMI as compared with that in patients without coronary artery disease.

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