The role of circRNAs in cancers

Biosci Rep. 2017 Oct 24;37(5):BSR20170750. doi: 10.1042/BSR20170750. Print 2017 Oct 31.


Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are recently regarded as a naturally forming family of widespread and diverse endogenous noncoding RNAs (ncRNAs) that may regulate gene expression in mammals. At present, above 30000 circRNAs have already been found, with their unique structures to maintain stability more easily than linear RNAs. Several previous literatures stressed on the important role of circRNAs, whose expression was relatively correlated with patients' clinical characteristics and grade, in the carcinogenesis of cancer. CircRNAs are involved in many regulatory bioprocesses of malignance, including cell cycle, tumorigenesis, invasion, metastasis, apoptosis, vascularization, through adsorbing RNA as a sponge, binding to RNA-binding protein (RBP), modulating transcription, or influencing translation. Therefore, it is inevitable to further study the interactions between circRNAs and tumors and to develop novel circRNAs as molecular markers or potential targets, which will provide promising applications in early diagnosis, therapeutic evaluation, prognosis prediction of tumors and even gene therapy for tumors.

Keywords: Biomarker; Cancer; Circular RNAs; Function.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Apoptosis / genetics
  • Carcinogenesis / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics*
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / pathology
  • RNA / genetics*
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA, Untranslated
  • RNA