Circular RNAs (circRNAs) are a novel type of non-coding RNA expressed across different species and tissues. At present, little is known about the expression and function of circRNAs in the tree shrew brain. In this study, we used RNA-seq to identify 35,007 circRNAs in hippocampus and cerebellum samples from infant (aged 47-52 days), young (aged 15-18 months), and old (aged 78-86 months) tree shrews. We observed no significant changes in the total circRNA expression profiles in different brain regions over time. However, circRNA tended to be downregulated in the cerebellum over time. Real-time RT-PCR analysis verified the presence of circRNAs. KEGG analysis indicated the occurrence of ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis, the MAPK signaling pathway, phosphatidylinositol signaling system, long-term depression, the rap1 signaling pathway, and long-term potentiation in both brain regions. We also observed that 29,087 (83.1%) tree shrew circRNAs shared homology with human circRNAs. The competing endogenous RNA networks suggested novel_circRNA_007362 potential functions as a 24-miRNAs sponge to regulate UBE4B expression. Thus, we obtained comprehensive circRNA expression profiles in the tree shrew brain during postnatal development and aging, which might help to elucidate the functions of circRNAs during brain aging and in age-related diseases.
Keywords: RNA-sequencing; circRNAs; tree shrew; ubiquitin-mediated proteolysis.