Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are widespread circles of non-coding RNAs with largely unknown function. Because stimulation of mammary cells with the epidermal growth factor (EGF) leads to dynamic changes in the abundance of coding and non-coding RNA molecules, and culminates in the acquisition of a robust migratory phenotype, this cellular model might disclose functions of circRNAs. Here we show that circRNAs of EGF-stimulated mammary cells are stably expressed, while mRNAs and microRNAs change within minutes. In general, the circRNAs we detected are relatively long-lived and weakly expressed. Interestingly, they are almost ubiquitously co-expressed with the corresponding linear transcripts, and the respective, shared promoter regions are more active compared to genes producing linear isoforms with no detectable circRNAs. These findings imply that altered abundance of circRNAs, unlike changes in the levels of other RNAs, might not play critical roles in signaling cascades and downstream transcriptional networks that rapidly commit cells to specific outcomes.
© The Author(s) 2015. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of Nucleic Acids Research.