CircRNAs: role in human diseases and potential use as biomarkers.

Cell Death & Disease
Lorena VerduciGiovanni Blandino


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a class of endogenous RNAs characterized by a covalent loop structure. In comparison to other types of RNAs, the abundance of circRNAs is relatively low but due to the circular configuration, their stability is very high. In addition, circRNAs display high degree of tissue specificity. The sponging activity of circRNAs toward microRNAs is the best-described mode of action of circRNAs. However, the ability of circRNAs to bind with specific proteins, as well as to encode short proteins, propose alternative functions. This review introduces the biogenesis of circRNAs and summarizes the roles played by circRNAs in human diseases. These include examples of their functional roles in several organ-specific cancers, such as head and neck and breast and lung cancers. In addition, we review potential functions of circRNAs in diabetes, cardiovascular, and neurodegenerative diseases. Recently, a growing number of studies have demonstrated involvement of circRNAs in a wide spectrum of signaling molecular pathways, but at the same time many different and controversial views on circRNAs role and function are emerging. We conclude by offering cellular homeostasis generated by networks comprising circular RNAs, othe...Continue Reading


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