Circular RNAs: clinical relevance in cancer

Zhijie Xu, Yuanliang Yan, Shuangshuang Zeng, Shuang Dai, Xi Chen, Jie Wei and Zhicheng Gong _

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Oncotarget. 2018; 9:1444-1460. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.22846

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Zhijie Xu1,2,3,4,*, Yuanliang Yan3,4,*, Shuangshuang Zeng3,4, Shuang Dai3,4, Xi Chen3,4, Jie Wei3,4 and Zhicheng Gong3,4

1Department of Pathology, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China

2Department of Pathology, School of Basic Medicine, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China

3Department of Pharmacy, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China

4Institute of Hospital Pharmacy, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Zhicheng Gong; email: [email protected]

Keywords: circular RNAs; miRNA sponges; gene expression regulation; biomarkers; cancer

Received: June 04, 2017    Accepted: November 20, 2017    Published: December 01, 2017


Circular RNAs, as recently discovered new endogenous non-coding RNAs, are important gene modulators with critical roles in tumor initiation and malignant progression. With the development of RNA sequencing and microarray technologies, numerous of functional circRNAs have been identified in cancerous tissues and cell lines. Mechanistically, circRNAs function as miRNA sponges, miRNA reservoirs or parental gene expression regulators. In this review, we discuss the properties and functions of circRNAs and their clinical implication as promising biomarkers for cancer research. Moreover, some emerging fields, such as exosome-loaded and immune response-associated circRNAs, are also discussed, suggesting novel insights into the carcinogenesis and therapy associated with these molecules.

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