The identification of all epigenetic modifications (i.e. DNA methylation, histone modifications and expression of noncoding RNAs such as microRNAs) involved in gene regulation is one of the major steps forward for understanding human biology in both normal and pathological conditions and for development of novel drugs. In this context, microRNAs play a pivotal role. This review article focuses on the involvement of microRNAs in the regulation of gene expression, on the possible role of microRNAs in the onset and development of human pathologies, and on the pharmacological alteration of the biological activity of microRNAs. RNA and DNA analogs, which can selectively target microRNAs using Watson–Crick base pairing schemes, provide a rational and efficient way to modulate gene expression. These compounds, termed antago-miR or anti-miR have been described in many examples in the recent literature and have proved to be able to perform regulatory as well as therapeutic functions. Among these, a still not fully exploited class is that of peptide nucleic acids (PNAs), promising tools for the inhibition of miRNA activity, with important applications in gene therapy and in drug development. PNAs targeting miR-122, miR-155 and miR-210 have already been developed and their biological effects studied both in vitro and in vivo.
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