RNA circularization strategies in vivo and in vitro

Nucleic Acids Res. 2015 Feb 27;43(4):2454-65. doi: 10.1093/nar/gkv045. Epub 2015 Feb 6.


In the plenitude of naturally occurring RNAs, circular RNAs (circRNAs) and their biological role were underestimated for years. However, circRNAs are ubiquitous in all domains of life, including eukaryotes, archaea, bacteria and viruses, where they can fulfill diverse biological functions. Some of those functions, as for example playing a role in the life cycle of viral and viroid genomes or in the maturation of tRNA genes, have been elucidated; other putative functions still remain elusive. Due to the resistance to exonucleases, circRNAs are promising tools for in vivo application as aptamers, trans-cleaving ribozymes or siRNAs. How are circRNAs generated in vivo and what approaches do exist to produce ring-shaped RNAs in vitro? In this review we illustrate the occurrence and mechanisms of RNA circularization in vivo, survey methods for the generation of circRNA in vitro and provide appropriate protocols.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Exons
  • Introns
  • RNA / chemistry*
  • RNA / metabolism
  • RNA Ligase (ATP) / metabolism
  • RNA, Archaeal / chemistry
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Viral / chemistry


  • RNA, Archaeal
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Viral
  • RNA
  • RNA Ligase (ATP)