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Exploring the role of tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) in disease: implications for HIF-1 pathway modulation.

The tRNA-derived small RNAs (tsRNAs) can be categorized into two main groups: tRNA-derived fragments (tRFs) and tRNA-derived stress-induced RNAs (tiRNAs). Each group possesses specific molecular sizes, nucleotide compositions, and distinct physiological functions. Notably, hypoxia-inducible factor-1 (HIF-1), a transcriptional activator dependent on oxygen, comprises one HIF-1β subunit and one HIF-α subunit (HIF-1α/HIF-2α/HIF-3α). The activation of HIF-1 plays a crucial role in gene transcription, influencing key aspects of cancer biology such as angiogenesis, cell survival, glucose metabolism, and invasion. The involvement of HIF-1α activation has been demonstrated in numerous human diseases, particularly cancer, making HIF-1 an attractive target for potential disease treatments. Through a series of experiments, researchers have identified two tiRNAs that interact with the HIF-1 pathway, impacting disease development: 5'tiRNA-His-GTG in colorectal cancer (CRC) and tiRNA-Val in diabetic retinopathy (DR). Specifically, 5'tiRNA-His-GTG promotes CRC development by targeting LATS2, while tiRNA-Val inhibits Sirt1, leading to HIF-1α accumulation and promoting DR development. Clinical data have further indicated that certain tsRNAs' expression levels are associated with the prognosis and pathological features of CRC patients. In CRC tumor tissues, the expression level of 5'tiRNA-His-GTG is significantly higher compared to normal tissues, and it shows a positive correlation with tumor size. Additionally, KEGG analysis has revealed multiple tRFs involved in regulating the HIF-1 pathway, including tRF-Val-AAC-016 in diabetic foot ulcers (DFU) and tRF-1001 in pathological ocular angiogenesis. This comprehensive article reviews the biological functions and mechanisms of tsRNAs related to the HIF-1 pathway in diseases, providing a promising direction for subsequent translational medicine research.

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