Identification of Circular RNAs from the Parental Genes Involved in Multiple Aspects of Cellular Metabolism in Barley

Front Plant Sci. 2016 Jun 3;7:776. doi: 10.3389/fpls.2016.00776. eCollection 2016.


RNA circularization made by head-to-tail back-splicing events is involved in the regulation of gene expression from transcriptional to post-translational levels. By exploiting RNA-Seq data and down-stream analysis, we shed light on the importance of circular RNAs in plants. The results introduce circular RNAs as novel interactors in the regulation of gene expression in plants and imply the comprehensiveness of this regulatory pathway by identifying circular RNAs for a diverse set of genes. These genes are involved in several aspects of cellular metabolism as hormonal signaling, intracellular protein sorting, carbohydrate metabolism and cell-wall biogenesis, respiration, amino acid biosynthesis, transcription and translation, and protein ubiquitination. Additionally, these parental loci of circular RNAs, from both nuclear and mitochondrial genomes, encode for different transcript classes including protein coding transcripts, microRNA, rRNA, and long non-coding/microprotein coding RNAs. The results shed light on the mitochondrial exonic circular RNAs and imply the importance of circular RNAs for regulation of mitochondrial genes. Importantly, we introduce circular RNAs in barley and elucidate their cellular-level alterations across tissues and in response to micronutrients iron and zinc. In further support of circular RNAs' functional roles in plants, we report several cases where fluctuations of circRNAs do not correlate with the levels of their parental-loci encoded linear transcripts.

Keywords: circular RNAs; coding and non-coding transcripts; leaves; micronutrients; mitochondria; seeds; transfer cells.