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RNA Biol. 2017 May 4;14(5):514-521. doi: 10.1080/15476286.2015.1122162. Epub 2015 Dec 9.

Circular RNA participates in the carcinogenesis and the malignant behavior of cancer.

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a State Key Laboratory for Oncogenes and Related Genes , Key Laboratory of Gastroenterology & Hepatology, Ministry of Health, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Ren Ji Hospital, School of Medicine, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, Shanghai Cancer Institute, Shanghai Institute of Digestive Disease , Shanghai , China.


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are long, non-coding RNAs that result from the non-canonical splicing of linear pre-mRNAs. However, the characteristics and the critical role of circRNA in co-/post-transcriptional regulation were not well recognized until the "microRNA sponge" function of circRNA is discovered. Recent studies have mainly been devoted to the function of the circular RNA sponge for miR-7 (ciRS-7) and sex-determining region Y (SRY) by targeting microRNA-7 (miR-7) and microRNA-138 (miR-138), respectively. In this review, we illustrate the specific role of circRNAs in a wide variety of cancers and in regulating the biological behavior of cancers via miR-7 or miR-138 regulation. Furthermore, circRNA, together with its gene silencing ability, also shows its potential in RNA interference (RNAi) therapy by binding to target RNAs, which provides a novel perspective in cancer treatment. Thus, this review concerns the biogenesis, biological function, oncogenesis, progression and possible therapies for cancer involving circRNAs.


Carcinogenesis; circular RNA; gene expression; malignant behavior; microRNA sponge

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