Circular RNA expression is suppressed by androgen receptor (AR)-regulated adenosine deaminase that acts on RNA (ADAR1) in human hepatocellular carcinoma

Cell Death Dis. 2017 Nov 16;8(11):e3171. doi: 10.1038/cddis.2017.556.


Hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) is a heterogeneous malignancy as a result of complex genetic and epigenetic alterations. HCC is characterized by a clear gender disparity for which there is lack of a clear mechanistic understanding. Androgen receptor (AR) is thought to be critical for such bias. Meanwhile, the potential function of circular RNA (circRNA), regulated by RNA editing enzyme, remained largely unknown in malignancy till now. By utilizing circRNA microarray survey coupled with in vitro analysis, we analyzed the influence of AR on circRNA expression in HCC. Our results indicated that AR could suppress circRNA expression by upregulating ADAR1 p110. Such effect is because AR served as a transcriptional activator of ADAR1 promoter. More significantly, data collected from our center strongly suggest that ADAR1 expression can effectively predict HCC patients' prognosis and an abnormal overexpression of ADAR1 is positively correlated with AR in HCC. In addition, we found CircARSP91 (hsa_circ_0085154), one of the circRNAs downregulated by AR in an ADAR1-dependent manner, could inhibit HCC tumor growth both in vitro and in vivo. These findings highlight the fact that AR as a contributing factor for gender disparity in HCC can cause complex consequences though regulation of circRNA expression. Better understanding of the roles of circRNA during HCC initiation and progression will provide a novel angle to develop potential HCC therapies.

MeSH terms

  • Adenosine Deaminase / genetics*
  • Adenosine Deaminase / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / genetics*
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / metabolism
  • Carcinoma, Hepatocellular / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Liver Neoplasms / pathology
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA / antagonists & inhibitors
  • RNA / biosynthesis*
  • RNA / genetics
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism
  • Receptors, Androgen / genetics
  • Receptors, Androgen / metabolism
  • Transfection


  • AR protein, human
  • RNA, Circular
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Receptors, Androgen
  • RNA
  • ADAR protein, human
  • Adenosine Deaminase