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PLoS One. 2015 Oct 20;10(10):e0141214. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0141214. eCollection 2015.

Identification and Characterization of Circular RNAs As a New Class of Putative Biomarkers in Human Blood.

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Systems Biology of Gene Regulatory Elements, Berlin Institute for Medical Systems Biology, Max Delbrück Center for Molecular Medicine, Robert Rössle Straße 10, D-13125 Berlin, Germany.
Department of Psychiatry, Charité - Universitätsmedizin Berlin, Campus Benjamin Franklin, D-12203 Berlin, Germany.


Covalently closed circular RNA molecules (circRNAs) have recently emerged as a class of RNA isoforms with widespread and tissue specific expression across animals, oftentimes independent of the corresponding linear mRNAs. circRNAs are remarkably stable and sometimes highly expressed molecules. Here, we sequenced RNA in human peripheral whole blood to determine the potential of circRNAs as biomarkers in an easily accessible body fluid. We report the reproducible detection of thousands of circRNAs. Importantly, we observed that hundreds of circRNAs are much higher expressed than corresponding linear mRNAs. Thus, circRNA expression in human blood reveals and quantifies the activity of hundreds of coding genes not accessible by classical mRNA specific assays. Our findings suggest that circRNAs could be used as biomarker molecules in standard clinical blood samples.

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