Regulation of microRNAs function by circular RNAs in human cancer

Chao Han, Nicole A. Seebacher, Francis J. Hornicek, Quancheng Kan _ and Zhenfeng Duan

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:64622-64637. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.19930

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Chao Han1,2, Nicole A. Seebacher2, Francis J. Hornicek2, Quancheng Kan1 and Zhenfeng Duan1,2

1Department of Pharmacy, The First Affiliated Hospital of Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou, P.R. China

2Sarcoma Biology Laboratory, Center for Sarcoma and Connective Tissue Oncology, Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, MA, USA

Correspondence to:

Quancheng Kan, email: [email protected]

Zhenfeng Duan, email: [email protected]

Keywords: circRNA, miRNA, cancer, gene regulatory mechanisms, target therapy

Received: May 25, 2017     Accepted: July 25, 2017     Published: August 04, 2017


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a newly validated class of endogenous non-coding RNA, generated from the ligation of exons, introns, or both, which arise via a diverse number of cellular mechanisms. Due to rapid advances in the development of combined high-throughput sequencing and bioinformatics analyzing tools, many circRNAs have recently been discovered, revealing an expansive number of ubiquitously expressed mammalian circRNAs. Interestingly, it has recently been confirmed that circRNAs bind to microRNAs (miRs), as miR “sponges”, acting to suppress miR function. As miRs are known to alter the development and progression of cancer, circRNAs may offer a novel diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for cancer. Indeed, recent evidence has shown that circRNAs are associated with many human cancers. Herein, we review the molecular characteristics and biogenesis of circRNAs, with a focus on newly identified circRNAs that may play an important role in human cancer, through their regulation of miR expression.

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